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.'"