Can a love of flying be inherited? Can it skip a generation?
Sarah Tamar, winner of this year's Women in Aviation, International/Martha R. King Scholarship, thinks maybe so. Her grandfather was a decorated pilot in the Iranian Air Force. She never knew him, but a mysterious tug toward flying lingered deep within her. As she worked at her advertising job in an office overlooking New York's East River, she would watch the floatplanes come and go with a persistent fascination that she could not explain to herself.
"I didn't know I was meant to fly," she says. "I didn't know I had the potential to become a pilot. I didn't know flying seaplanes for a living would become my life's purpose."
When a friend took her for a ride in a Skyhawk, that long dormant gene roared back to life.
The change of course that followed was dramatic and profoundly rewarding. She scrimped and saved, got her private certificate, ditched her career in advertising and took a ground job with Tailwind, a New York seaplane service. "When I flew in my first seaplane from the dock," she recalls, "I was hooked for life."
She had less than 100 hours then. Instrument, seaplane, commercial -- the ratings followed in quick succession, and promotions with them, until she found herself flying amphibious Cessna Caravans for Tailwind. She now looks forward to so much more that a life in aviation has to offer: flying in Alaska, getting a jet rating, perhaps -- she's VP of a local EAA chapter -- building her own small seaplane.
In 2019 Sarah worked with her first female CFI. "She taught me what it means to be an educator. She knows how to reach every student she takes on with patience, adaptability, humor and heart -- and made me want to do it too."
That experience, and a nine-hour day spent talking with kids at a Women in Aviation "Girls Can Fly" event at a local airport, inspired her to get her CFI in order to pass on to other women the passion for aviation that she had so unexpectedly discovered in herself.
The WAI/Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors includes a $5,000 stipend. Tamar intends to dedicate it to that purpose. This scholarship also includes free, lifetime access to all King Schools courses including FIRCs for life. The value is over $18,000. The Scholarship is donated annually by King Schools, on behalf of Martha King who, along with her husband John King, created the company in 1974.
"When Martha King told me I was the recipient of the scholarship, I was almost speechless. And then ecstatic, and above all filled with gratitude. I have been exceedingly blessed by people who have helped me along the way, and I want to pay it forward. I want to be able to give back to this beautiful industry in every way I can."