2018 Scholarship Winner

“A person never truly dies until their spirit is completely forgotten and the last person who they’ve touched has perished. So long as we continue to keep the spirit alive, it continues to serve the world.” – Jarard Paige, J. Elliot Marketing

Serving the World by Paying It Forward

In 2012, J. Elliot Marketing in partnership with Women in Aviation International (WAI) announced the $2,500 Christine Reed Memorial Flight Scholarship. Christine passed away before she was able to reach her dream of becoming a private pilot. So to keep her spirit alive, J. Elliot Marketing offers an annual scholarship to women ages 16-30 who have already soloed and are working towards their initial pilot certificate.

Meet Tara Ryan – 2018 Scholarship Recipient

In January 2018, the sixth scholarship recipient was selected – Ms. Tara Ryan (Louisville, KY) – a Funeral Director who conquered her fear of heights and is now on a journey to become a major airline pilot. Take a moment to learn more about this inspiring young lady who has made it her mission to become a professional aviator and travel the world.

April 4, 2017, was a magical and momentous day in your life as a pilot. What led you to ultimately take your discovery flight on that day?

April 4 was the day I took my discovery flight and confirmed my love of flying. Ultimately, what led to that day was a conversation with a pilot who told me that he believed my personality and love of traveling would make me be a great fit to be a pilot. Honestly, I had no idea what even went into becoming a pilot.

I dismissed his thought because I’m afraid of heights, so I told him, “no, flying isn’t something for me.” His comment and my excuse of heights resonated with me. Fear is something that I choose to not let control my life. At that point, I owed it to myself to conquer the sky and go fly.

I called Cardinal Wings Flight School at Bowman Field in Louisville, KY and scheduled a discovery flight. I had no idea that the decision would change my future.

My discovery flight was amazing! I enjoyed myself and was relaxed beyond belief. Once we landed, I asked what the next step was and within a week, I had already had my medical and several lessons scheduled.


Tara_2018_4What’s the most exciting life moment you’ve experienced that strongly impacted your interest in aviation?

I would have to say my first solo. That was probably the most impactful day I have had in aviation thus far. It is a day I can replay every moment of – like it was yesterday. It’s crazy to think that just a little over 4 months earlier I had a fear of heights and now I was in total control of piloting an aircraft and, more importantly, successfully landing an airplane all by myself.


How has your participation in the Bluegrass Chapter of Women in Aviation assisted your along in your pilot journey?

Tara_2018_2All of the women in the Bluegrass chapter have their own stories, lives and are a wealth of knowledge that enjoy sharing with others. They offer advice based on decisions they made and what they would do if they were starting out – if they knew then, what they knew now.

After my first meeting, a group stayed back to talk to me about my goals and aspirations, and gave me advice on how best to achieve your dreams. The twins, Beth and Leah, that are in the chapter, suggested that I take a look at flight schools that offer accelerated programs to get my flight training completed as quick as possible, since today’s age in aviation is the perfect storm for hiring. They engaged me about my current career and what personal goals I have, and how those will work into a career in aviation. To this day, these same women still follow up with my progress and provide all the support I could ever ask for.

The Bluegrass Chapter has provided me with the opportunity to start experiencing the inclusiveness that aviation has to offer, as well as friendship and mentoring.

How do you feel your educational and professional background prior to your time in the cockpit have prepared for you being a professional pilot?

My educational background consists of a Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies, followed by going to a college for Mortuary Science, to be a Funeral Director. By being in the funeral service industry, I feel like it has prepared me for about anything in life.

Tara_2018_6The attention to detail, multitasking, deadlines, punctuality and performance under pressure, are undeniably important to be successful in a career that is so demanding. I can now see how these skills and traits carry over well into aviation.

What has been the most thrilling aspect of your flight training?

The most thrilling aspect have been the solo cross-countries and nighttime flying. It’s an exhilarating feeling to fly alone after you have left your home airport and venture out. When you are up there by yourself everything depends on you and it’s an amazing feeling knowing you are able to be up there, piloting and navigating the world by yourself.

Nighttime flying is equally as thrilling because everything changes shape at night. The views of cities being lit up at night are beautiful. In Louisville, we have a walking bridge over the river that lights up in rainbow colors most nights and is breathtaking to see from above.


If you could look ahead 10 years and list all of the accomplishments you wish to achieve (both in and out of the cockpit), what would you list?

In 10 years, I would like to accomplish my goal of being at a major airline and within the same 10 years upgrade to Captain. I would also like to get involved with the flight training department to help future pilots obtain their goals. Not only in the next 10 years, but for the rest of my life, I would like to say that I have had the opportunity to travel the world – and that I did.


J. Elliot Marketing is proud to have Tara as the sixth recipient of the Christine Reed Memorial Flight Scholarship and looks forward to offering this scholarship annually. By helping others reach their dreams, J. Elliot Marketing keeps Christine’s spirit alive. Perhaps this minor step serves to inspire others to think of ways they can share their passions with the world and find ways to pay it forward.