NORMAN, Oklahoma – It was during a “discovery flight” from a coworker when 20-year-old Maddie McIntosh knew she was going to be pilot.
“I had actually never even been in a plane before, like I had never flown commercially,” McIntosh said. “I’ve only ever been in a little plane and that’s the only plane I had ever been in.”
The experience was mind-blowing for McIntosh.
“We flew through these clouds and I just remember popping out of the end of this cloud; and seeing the ground and the city I grew up in that I’ve only ever known from the ground.”
She claimed the plane was traveling casually at 120 miles per hour and she could see for miles and miles.
“I was like, there’s no way this is real,” she said.
McIntosh is currently a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma studying aviation with a concentration in professional piloting.
This term, McIntosh is taking a course to get her commercial pilot license after earning her private pilot license last August.
She has done 137 hours of training in a single engine Piper Warrior III and also has a couple hours of training in a Cessna 150 and Cessna 152.
Her furthest distance flown to date is 167 miles.
McIntosh claimed the average person can receive their private pilot license with about 60 hours of airtime after schooling, labs and other requirements.
Before her life-changing flight, McIntosh was going to major in mechanical engineering which still tied into her love for aviation.
Being a Native American female in a cost-driven industry that is dominated by white males has been motivating for McIntosh.
“Honestly, I feel like I am creating a new identity for myself because only seven percent of pilots are female,” McIntosh said. “I don’t even know a single other native pilot, male or female.”
Piloting was not a natural talent for McIntosh, there were times she felt like an underdog in her class.
But she said due her life experiences and perseverance, she did not succumb to failure yet overcame her obstacles.
“It took a lot of work and effort,” she said. “There have been lots of times in my life where nobody saw me as somebody that would get something the first time, and that really helped me not give up.”
McIntosh is beyond excited for her future career in aviation.
“I want to take as many people as I can flying,” McIntosh said. “I am so excited to share aviation with everybody that I can.”
McIntosh wants everyone to know that aviation is possible for everyone and they can do anything they set their mind too.
“Everything is possible,” she said. “Everything I have tried, and everyone I know that has had a dream and put in the work for it has done it.”