“Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace”
-from High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Motsarah (l) and Christiane (r) Caldwell
Mirth tumbles from Christiane and Motsarah Caldwell when they talk about flying planes. Faces alight, they speak about “breathtaking scenery” and “being on top of the world.”
“Flying just feels like freedom,” says Christiane, 20. “You can think and be calm,” says 17-year-old high school junior, Motsarah.
The siblings are enrolled in BRCC’s Commercial Pilot certificate program with Blue Ridge Aviation. They do most of their flying, and everything else it seems, together. “People think, ‘those two are always concocting something,’” says Christiane. Both want to become search and rescue/disaster relief pilots with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Christiane is well on her way. She is a CAP Second Lieutenant and chairperson of the Ninety-Nines--International Organization of Women Pilots, Shenandoah Valley Chapter.
Christiane believes her love of aviation started early on, when her grandmother would take her to Miami International Airport to watch planes take off and land. Motsarah, on the other hand, had a more terrifying reason to want to be in the pilot’s seat.
“I was flying with my sister and she stalled the plane,” says Motsarah with a grin. “She gets a little yoke happy sometimes,” she says of Christiane’s penchant for causing steep climbs and descents by pulling or pushing on the control column. “So I decided I’d better learn to fly, too.”
While the pair shares many attributes, Motsarah is obviously the daredevil. “She loves mud and trucks and roller coasters!” says Christiane of her sister. By contrast, Christiane pursues more quiet hobbies like jewelry making.
The Bridgewater residents are aiming high with their career aspirations as well. Both are interested in STEM fields: aeronautical engineering for Motsarah and chemical engineering for Christiane. Both will continue other coursework at BRCC first.
“Women can do anything they want in aviation,” Christiane says. “Take a risk to get what you’re looking for. If you really love it, go for it!”