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UC's first female Air Care pilot says she's 'flying with a purpose now'

Venida Hayes rounds out first all-female crew
Venida_Hayes_helicopter_Pilot_UCMC_ AIr Care_pilot.png
Posted at 7:37 PM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 20:03:16-04

CINCINNATI — University of Cincinnati Air Care is celebrating two major firsts after 35 years: Its first female pilot and its first all-female flight crew.

“It makes me feel like I’m flying with a purpose now,” says pilot Venida Hayes.

Flying has been in Hayes’ veins since she was growing up in Seattle.

“Anytime I heard a helicopter fly over, I would always run outside because it had the best sound!” Hayes says.

Hayes has been on the job for 2 1/2 months but she has been flying for 12 years.

Diana Deimling, the flight nurse who has been with Air Care since its very beginning, says Hayes is as good a pilot as the three male pilots on the job for UC Health. Or better.

“She’s probably smoother than a few of the male pilots we fly with. It’s all about skill,” Deimling said. “In any line of work I’m always excited when females get into something that’s non-female.”

Hayes says not many female pilots end up flying helicopters.

"I started with airplanes. I think in my class we were like 30. Four other girls. I was one of two girls that finished the course. And when I went to the helicopter side there were even less females," she says.

Hayes says being part of an all-female crew wasn’t on her mind “until they mentioned it.”

“I was like, 'Oh yeah! We are all female!’ It felt normal, which is a good thing!"

Hayes says she's happy to encourage women to fly helicopters.

"Anytime someone comes up to me and asks me about this career — especially girls — I’m like, 'Yes, I can talk to you about this — no problem.'"