Lauren Speicher’s unique hobby of flying planes has helped teach her to believe in herself

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Lauren Speicher

Lauren Speicher flying a plane as a student pilot in the cockpit

Senior Lauren Speicher started learning to fly planes two years before she got her driver’s license. 

Lauren became a student pilot at the age of 14. Since her dad is a private pilot, he introduced her to this hobby; it is something she grew up with and has always been passionate about. 

“I have always loved flying, and even just the feeling of getting into planes,” Lauren said. “My dad used to take me in little jets, planes, and to the airport to meet other pilots. Stuff like that really shows how much flying has always been a large part of my life. It’s actually really funny because I learned to fly a plane before I even started driving.”  

Lauren first started her training at a small airport called Chicago Executive Airport, located in the city she is originally from. There, she was being trained by a retired United Airlines pilot who would teach her ground school and protocols that she needed to know until she was ready for her first flight. 

The next step in pursuing Lauren’s passion is going on a solo flight, but due to COVID-19, her in-air classes went on pause. However, that hasn’t stopped Lauren from putting in full effort in her ground classes, and she hopes to get into the air again as soon as possible. 

“Because of moving [from Chicago to Michigan] and COVID-19, I haven’t been physically in a plane in a while,” Lauren said, “but I have continued with my virtual and ground learning in hopes of going on a solo flight soon and eventually getting my flying license as an end goal.”

Getting a flying license is not an easy task to accomplish. It involves a lot of time, hard work, and dedication—all things Lauren was prepared for. However, one obstacle that isn’t spoken about enough is how being a pilot is predominantly a male hobby with only five percent of women being represented in the aviation community.   

Due to this, Lauren’s class consisted mostly of older men which, upon first glance, was rather intimidating as a young teenage girl. Yet, to Lauren’s surprise, her entire class was extremely supportive. 

“When I was 14 it was definitely scary walking in and thinking, ‘Okay, I am definitely the youngest one here, everyone is [a] middle-aged man who has been doing this for years,’” Lauren said, “but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how excited they were that I was such a young teenager interested in [flying]. They wanted to share their love and excitement and passion with me. It helped me realize that being a woman in aviation was more of a strength than anything else.”

Despite not being able to complete a solo flight right now due to COVID-19, Lauren has multiple hours of flying and memories in the air to prove it. 

They wanted to share their love and excitement and passion with me. It helped me realize that being a woman in aviation was more of a strength than anything else.”

One of her all-time favorite experiences was her first flight. She explains that the experience is like nothing you would imagine it would feel like. When being in the cockpit, there is a sense of control that can only be found when you are in charge of flying a vehicle.

“[when I am flying,] it’s like a whole different language,” Lauren said. “There are code words and names that I had to learn, and you’re kind of in your own little world, your own bubble. I was only flying a tiny plane, but the feeling is [still] incomparable.”

Exhilaration, adrenaline, and control are all amazing feelings that Lauren continually feels as she is flying. Additionally, she intends to stay a prominent part of the five percent of women that are represented in the aviation community, because when you choose a hobby such as flying a plane, you have to adore all aspects of it, even the more difficult ones. 

Lauren’s hobby is one that is extremely complicated and time-consuming, but none of that matters since she is doing something that’s important to her, and she loves everything about it. 

“Flying has taught me that just because you’re not sure if you’ll be able to do something, [doesn’t mean] you can let that hinder you from trying it,” Lauren said. “If you had told me when I was 13, ‘You will be a student pilot,’ I would have said, ‘I can’t even drive yet. How is that possible?’ And yet, here I am.”