Until a February day her senior year at Wiscasset Middle High School, Lindsey Gordon had only been on commercial flights and her great-grandfather Al Rainville’s helicopter he used to land on her Wiscasset lawn and give the family rides in.
Then Wiscasset’s Mark Welborn, her Junior ROTC lieutenant colonel, suggested she go up with Lisa Reece, a longtime pilot at Wiscasset Municipal Airport.
The winter 2018 single-engine plane flight over the snow-covered Midcoast, including over the Kennebec River and Sagadahoc Bridge, was a hit with Gordon. “It was awesome, like nothing I’d ever done before. When you’re in that small, compact plane, it’s amazing.”
More flights and lots of talking followed and, with Reece’s encouragement, Gordon took aviation camps.
Sitting with Reece in the hangar Reece and husband Steve Williams own at the airport, the 2018 WMHS graduate recounted how she has been learning and gaining inspiration from Reece’s mentoring. “Total female motivation right here,” she said about Reece, of Georgetown.
For Reece, it’s been a chance to do something she considers important: Encouraging someone’s interest in flight and, when it’s a girl or woman, she can show, by her example, the sky’s the limit.
“I’ve always felt when I’m flying, I have this passion ... this skill, and I need to share it. I need to pass it along.”
Reece recalled being interested in aviation growing up, but knowing little about it and thinking it was out of reach. “I thought you had to be a man. I thought you had to be really, really smart, really rich, and in the military. I had no idea what general aviation was.”
In and after college, she checked out some programs, but, except for one introductory flight, decided she couldn’t take it up due to her college loans. Then when she went to work at L.L. Bean, the company gave her a scholarship of about $1,000 to go after her pilot’s license. She’d spent the summer flying with Williams, her eventual husband. “I’ve said I don’t know what I fell in love with first, flying or Steve.”
Encouragement from pilot and instructor Virginia Geiger to fly also helped wipe away Reece’s childhood belief a woman couldn’t do it. “There was an example there, like, you can do it ... So by the time I got ready (to become licensed), it wasn’t even an issue.”
She has passed the encouragement and example along to numerous student pilots and now Gordon. Even showing a young child into a plane and the pilot’s seat, you don’t know where that experience could lead him or her if it sparks an interest, Reece said. “You don’t what that’s going to turn into. So it’s so important to keep doing that.”
Gordon has been great to mentor. “She’s so positive,” Reece said. “And she’s so game for anything. It’s like, ‘We’re doing this!’”
“I always say on the intercom, ‘Woohoo,’” Gordon said.
“I know flying is going to always be one of my favorite things to do ... I can do it on the side. It’s a passion of mine. My other passion is working in the Air Force, serving my country. So I’m meeting my passions in the middle.”
The future dentist said she might one day combine her passion for flight with her career in orthondontia. The sophomore at Norwich University, the military college in Vermont, wants to serve in the Air Force and is hoping the Air Force will pay for her schooling in dentistry. She is in the college’s Air Force ROTC.
“You’re 100% living the military lifestyle, 24/7 ... I knew I was going to like it. I didn’t know I was going to like it as much as I do. I think it’s the perfect fit for me. You have to stick to a plan, follow the procedures.”
Her mentor observed, “It’s like flying! You’ve got procedures, you stick to a plan.”
Besides learning piloting of single-engine planes, Gordon – who said her father Matt worked mowing Wiscasset’s airport as a teen – is into flying without an engine. She goes gliding, or soaring. If she could only soar or fly single engine, which would win? “I will always love soaring, it’s just so peaceful, but with single engine, you can do so much more. You can go farther. It doesn’t depend on, “Oh, I have to land now because my altitude’s slowly dropping.”
A believer in one goal at a time, Gordon was about to go for her gliding license and will “definitely” work toward her single engine private pilot’s license. That’s not all. “I’m hoping to go all the way to commercial.
“So it’s a good fallback plan. If dentistry doesn’t work out, I can work for Delta,” she said, starting a laugh. Reece joined her in it.
“You could be the flying dentist,” Reece said.