American Flyers: Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Lilia Hameed: I am a triple minority and a first-generation U.S citizen! My mom is from Mexico and my dad is from Iraq. That makes me half Hispanic, half Middle Eastern, and a woman in the aviation community. I’ve spent almost all my life around the Dallas area and have grown up around planes. I spend most of my time engulfed with aviation but, when I’m away from planes, I also work as a photographer and I love art.
AF: How did you get into flying?
Lilia: In elementary school, I dressed as Amelia Earhart for a wax museum. I remember reading about her and fell in love with the idea that she was a female pilot. Eventually, in high school I got the opportunity to go on a flight in a Cessna 172 in Hawaii; this was the moment I knew that I wholeheartedly wanted to become a pilot.
AF: Tell us how you went about choosing a flight school?
Lilia: Multiple members of my extended family are pilots. With their guidance, I knew what to look for. I began my search for a busy airport and an industrious and business-like environment. This is how I found Addison Airport. I began looking at crash rates and reviews of flight schools in the area then narrowed it down from the best results.
AF: What made you choose American Flyers?
Lilia: When I went on my discovery flight with American Flyers, they were very hands-on throughout the whole thing. And when I arrived, I got to experience a glimpse of what I would be doing as a student which made me excited and knew what I would be getting into.
AF: How much outside studying did you have to put in during your time with AF?
Lilia: I dedicate a large amount of my free time to studying. I would estimate I spent about 30 to 40 hours a week studying outside of the classroom. Aviation is a whole language within itself that takes a lot of dedication and determination to become fluent in. Fortunately, I am an extremely dedicated and determined person towards my craft so I have no problem with aviation taking over my life.
AF: What is your most memorable moment at American Flyers?
Lilia: I would say it’s a tie between my discovery flight and the day I first soloed. My discovery of flight serves a major part in how I knew I wanted to be a pilot. My instructor instilled this desire of becoming a real pilot in me by showing me that even though it is hard, to never forget the feeling of joy you have in the air. With the time I soloed, it took me a few tries to be ready but American Flyers did not give up on me. I kept being pushed to my greatest potential and told that I could do it. When I successfully completed my solo and got my shirt cut, the feeling was something I will never forget. My solo is an incomparable memory in aviation.
AF: Looking back, what advice would you give someone interested in starting pilot training?
Lilia: I would tell them to know what they’re getting into. Aviation is a serious trade and requires a large amount of hard work and determination. There are times you may feel fearful but just remember what you’re working towards. The rewards are so abundant in aviation: the ability to travel, say you can fly, and the inexplicable feelings of successfully completing your solo. To fly a plane is to defy gravity which is such a reward within itself.
AF: What’s next for you?
Lilia: My next step is to finish all my ratings and become a CFI. I have a few opportunities that pique my interest such as going to cargo or flying private. I hope to end up at a tropical destination such as an island or beach area.
AF: If you could fly anywhere, go to any flying destination, where would it be?
Lilia: I dream of flying with the northern lights of Alaska with my best friends Gwen and Chloe. While it’s one thing to say you got the chance to see the northern lights, to be in the sky with two people you love provides another element of excitement. And by being a pilot, it opens a whole new world of opportunities and experiences.