Pilar Wolfsteller, winner of this year’s Women in Aviation International Martha King Scholarship for a Female Flight Instructor, recalled her high school physics teacher’s reaction back in the 1980s when she expressed an interest in flying: “You’re too dumb to be a pilot. And who would hire a girl to fly a plane, anyway?”
“It changed my life goals,” she said. “I dropped the physics course, I did a literature course instead, and I ended up going into journalism.” Specializing in aviation writing, she became the Americas Air Transport and Global Features Editor at FlightGlobal.com in 2019 and was named Aviation Reporter of the Year in 2022.
Wolfsteller, now 51, got over the devastation caused by her physics teacher and pursued a career as an aviation journalist, and also earned her commercial pilot certificate. According to King Schools, “She is applying the $5,000 stipend that comes with the award to acquiring her Flight Instructor qualification and is already taking advantage of her lifetime access to all King Schools courses (total scholarship value over $18,000).”
She said, “I aim to use my flight instructor certificate for what it was designed for: to teach others how to pilot an aircraft. But also to show them that confidence—being bold—can be learned, and that the sky holds no limits, no prejudices, and no judgment. The airplane doesn’t care who you are, and the freedom up there is endless.”