Cool Girls with Tag: flying

Natalie Kelley

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Natalie KelleyName: Natalie Kelley
Age: 45
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Occupation: stay-at-home mom and student pilot

Growing up in a small farming community in Tennessee, Natalie Kelley was never excited about growing up and having a traditional career. But as she became a young adult, she decided to choose a “safe” path, and graduated with a degree in Business as a marketing major.

“My majors changed a number of times. I was a very “unsettled” student,” she recalls.

Cool Girl Natalie Kelley in front of small airplane.As a young woman, her father’s influence led her to dream of something bigger. A former Navy pilot and career pilot with FedEx, her dad peppered her with gifts from his trips and tales of his travels. Natalie’s Uncle Robert also guided her towards her love of the sky.

“He owned and maintained his own aerobatic planes and performed in airshows, and still does, after 50 years! It was definitely not “usual” in our small town of farmers for someone to own an airplane,” Natalie says. “He would take me flying because his two sons weren’t all that interested in flying and I loved it! He knew I loved it and continued to encourage me throughout my life to get my pilot’s license. We would attend airshows together and talk aviation quite often. He was my true inspiration.”

It was from Uncle Robert’s spark and Natalie’s desire to share her passion that flyGIRL was born.

Two women pilots wearing FlyGIRL clothing.“I wanted to create some clothing to wear that was stylish and had a catchy logo for women; I wanted something to wear that would advertise to the world that I was a pilot. In doing that, hoping that other women would see it and ask me about it, and I could then hopefully plant a seed for another female to be intrigued and possibly pursue aviation,” she explains. “I wanted to build a social community through the various social media avenues of women who love aviation as much as I do so that we could support one another with pictures of our adventures or encouraging words. And I wanted to financially help other women who were interested in pursuing aviation, either as a hobby or a career. Flight training is expensive and intimidating for women; I wanted to be able to relieve some of that financial burden and provide encouragement with mentoring or just being available as a cheerleader.” So she set out to start flyGIRL, LLC.

Cool Girl Natalie Kelley in plane with pilot's gear.Natalie started a scholarship program through flyGIRL to help promote women who want to take to the skies. Beyond her high-flying philanthropy and business savvy, Natalie makes it a point to fly at least three days a week for lessons. “And I’ll take my plane out any time the weather cooperates,” she adds.

On the ground, she’s a proud mother of three boys, she even makes sure to be back on time after her jaunts to the airport in order to welcome them home from school.

“I have three teenage boys who act like they could care less if I’m at home or not, but being present and available has always been of utmost importance to me. Although, there are many days when faced with their teenaged attitudes, that I want to fly away and stay away!” she jokes.

It’s the balance between satisfying her personal goals and being a self-sacrificing stay-at-home mother that has shifted her into a new phase of life. Her joy in the sky and glee for aviation has prompted her to shift her earth-bound career path. She’s looking to gain flight hours and trainings in order to make a living as a pilot.

Cool Girl and pilot Natalie Kelley walking in front of a small airplane.


“At first, I was concerned that I was too old for a new “life” or career, but I’ve spoken with many people and am constantly encouraged that I’m definitely not too old and there are a large number of opportunities available for me, especially since I’m a woman,” Natalie says. Her zest and curiosity has led to blogging and vlogging her flight training and experiences, and she’s enthusiastic to share her fresh start in the sky on social media (see it here: on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter).

As for other earthly girls who are looking up, Natalie has this to say:

“Pursue the things that you really enjoy, don’t listen to everyone else. We all have special gifts and talents, God wants us to use those. Don’t live your whole life settling on the things others enjoy or want, it will not be satisfying and you will feel empty. Only you have to live with yourself. Life goes by fast and is too short!”

For this soaring quest for personal and aviation inspiration, we think Natalie Kelley is one Cool Girl!

Keep up with all her adventures:

A $200 donation was made to FlyGirl on behalf of Natalie. You can donate here.

Jen Scheer

Name: Jen Scheer
Age: 35
Location: Merritt Island, Florida
Occupation: Space Shuttle technician

Jen Scheer has always had her head in the clouds. Growing up in Tallahassee, Florida, she wanted to be an ornithologist , or bird researcher, when she grew up. Her interest in winged things didn’t end there, Jen was always fascinated with airplanes. This passion led to flying lessons with the Florida State University Aviation Club, where she began learning about aircraft maintenance. “When I was flying, I enjoyed being around planes and spent time at the hangar. I wasn’t allowed to do any maintenance then, of course. I was interested in how they worked, but I was an art major at the time. I was very interested in learning how to restore warbirds, specifically those with “nose art,” the neat designs that used to be painted on war planes,” she says. Once she got a taste of repairing planes she was hooked. She hit the books at Lively Aviation School in order to get her Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic’s license. Later she learned about how to fix larger flying objects, namely those in the field of aerospace.

As a Space Shuttle Technician, Jen’s career began out of a different sort of love. Her husband was working at the space center at the time and he urged Jen to apply. These days Jen doesn’t exactly have your typical nine-to-five. “Currently, my job consists of maintenance of shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System Pods, Forward Reaction Control System modules, and associated ground support equipment,” she says. Before your eyes glaze over, Jen explains what that actually means.

“The orbiter is the black and white airplane-like part of the shuttle. A lot of people call it the shuttle, but generally the name shuttle refers to the orbiter plus the solid rocket boosters and orange external tank,” she says. “The Orbital Maneuvering System Pods are called OMS (pronounced like ‘ohms’) Pods for short, and they are the two large bumps you see on the orbiter on either side of the tail. They each contain a large engine and small thrusters that are used to move the orbiter around once it is in space, for things such as docking to the International Space Station, or performing the de-orbit burn that allows the astronauts to return to earth at the end of their mission.

The Forward Reaction Control System known as the FRCS, is a piece of the orbiter that sits just forward of the crew module, almost like it’s across the nose of the orbiter. It also houses thrusters for maneuvering in space. The OMS pods and FRCS have several tanks inside to fuel the engines and thrusters, and a network of tubing and valves, electrical wiring and sensors, and silvery looking ‘blankets’ to control the temperature inside. The OMS pods and FRCS are removed from the orbiter and transported to my work area for processing. We process the pods in one of two ways and ship them back.

One way is to check out the entire pod system including all thrusters, fuel and oxidizer tanks and their related systems, and complete a structural inspection. This is scheduled maintenance, and occurs once every five flights. The second way is called a “drop-in” which happens when there was damage from a mission. The problem is diagnosed and the system is repaired or replaced.  The pod is then shipped back to the Orbiter Processing Facility to be attached to the orbiter.”

Look at that rocket!

Which means that Jen spends her days doing diagnostic tests with a meter, performing a variety of inspections, cleaning the equipment, and occasionally replacing parts that have conked out, like cutting out a valve and welding in a new one. She’s like a very well-informed mechanic, only instead of cars and trucks, she’s working under the hoods of stargazing shuttles that can weigh up to 165,000 pounds when empty.

Although many people make up the space program, Jen admits that there’s a bit of a gender gap. Out of her initial group of twenty-five co-workers, Jen was the only girl, these days she’s one of two women. Though this provides a bit of a challenge, she’s proven herself and feels comfortable among her fellow space cadets.

Jen aspires to lure more men and women into space. “I’m really into space outreach. I think it is very important to get people interested in space exploration so that it will continue,” she says. She’s even launched an online group called the Space Tweep Society. Consisting of a bunch of space enthusiasts, these like-minded cosmos-connoisseurs use Twitter as a medium to promote their passion. “Our ranks include NASA and other space program employees, astronomers, journalists, astrophysicists, scientists, educators, and space geeks,” she says. “Our mission is to promote enthusiasm for all things space and to unite those inside the space industry with those who are on the outside looking in.”

For shooting for the stars and keeping the space shuttles running, we think that Jen Scheer is one very Cool Girl!

Check out the Space Tweep Society Blog at, or just follow Jen on Twitter, @flyingjenny