After 24 years of being grounded, a grandmother is making good on her continued love of flying.
Tamaron Nicklas followed in her father’s footsteps as a military pilot once the U.S. Air Force Academy started accepting women in 1976. She was part of the seventh graduating class of female pilots.
Nicklas met her husband at the Academy, and after graduation, she flew refuelers while her husband flew fighter jets. They both became flight instructors at the Academy.
Before long, though, Nicklas had four children in six years and knew her role was to nurture and care for them at home.
“I just thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I think I need to be home,'” Nicklas told NBC 5.
However, once her youngest child left the nest, Nicklas heard about a former classmate who had taken an extended leave from flying but had recently returned.
“Somebody started talking about a gal in a previous class that had been out of flying for many years, stayed home with her kids, and she had gotten back into flying,” said Nicklas. “I thought, ‘Huh. Could I do that?'”
Nicklas could; in fact, she did!
She and her husband were living in Colorado at the time. They ended up attending a flight club where she was hired as an instructor. She eventually made her way back to the Air Force Academy to catch up on some of the technological developments in the industry.
After getting reacclimated to flying modern aircraft, Nicklas and her husband moved to the Lone Star State. There, Nicklas got her first commercial airline job at Southwest Airlines.
She flew her first commercial flight alongside her husband, who had been flying for the airline for 30 years.
“I was like, ‘Are we going to tell the passengers? Uh, do you think they’ll like it?’ And he, right away, made the announcement, ‘This is my wife’s first flight at Southwest Airlines,'” she said.
“I’m super proud of her. It’s hard enough to just do your everyday job as opposed to something you haven’t done in 24 years,” her husband told NBC 5.
Nicklas said she hopes her determination is an example to her children and grandchildren that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.
”Whatever you want to do, just work hard, and you’re going to do it,” she said.