Most Viewed Stories
Wellton resident continues the legacy of women in aviation
One hundred years ago today, Harriett Quimby became the first American woman to earn a pilot's certificate and paved the way for women like Katrina Noll who began her foray in aeronautics when she was 12.
“I guess you could say I come from an aviation family,” Noll said. “It's been something I have been interested in for as long as I can remember.”
Noll was born in Scottsdale in 1991 and her family relocated to Yuma County when she was 6 after her father received a job at McElhaney Cattle Company.
She attended Mohawk Elementary school for a few years before her family opted to homeschool her and her brother.
In 2003, Katrina's father, Bob, fulfilled a lifelong dream and earned his pilot's license.
“My dad's always had an interest in aviation,” Noll said. “When he was 6, one of the neighbors caught him measuring the backyard. The neighbor questioned him and he said he was trying to see if he could land an airplane there.”
During Bob's training, he took his daughter with him on one of his flights which sparked in Katrina a passion for flying.
“When I went with him and his instructor, I really had a lot of fun,” said Noll. “So when I was 12, I was at a homeschool convention in Phoenix and saw a booth for the Civil Air Patrol and became really interested in them. After I got back to Yuma, I looked them up and joined the local branch.”
In the Civil Air Patrol, Katrina began to learn the fundamentals of flying and met her future flight instructor, Ron “Ken” Kinner.
“So he knew me and knew that I wanted to start working on my license so I started flying with him,” Noll said. “I was 15 when I began flying a Cessna 172 and working toward my license.”
Katrina couldn't receive her pilot's license before she turned 17, so she spent the next year and a half logging flight hours and preparing for her examinations.
“I was doing a lot of flying all across Arizona, keeping current with my flying, building hours,” Noll said. “I would fly to Flagstaff, Kingman, Prescott — all over just to gain experience.”
While Noll was flying with her instructor at this time, she was becoming increasingly anxious to fly alone but couldn't until she received her FAA medical certificate.
“Around my 16th birthday, I drove to San Diego to take the medical exam. My mom went with me because she didn't want me driving all by myself,” Noll said.
Her mother's reservations didn't prevent Katrina from flying her first solo flight later that afternoon when they returned from California.
“After we got back, Ken and I went for a lesson,” Noll said. “We landed at the old auxiliary airport and Ken told me to pull off the runway. We usually do that to talk about how maybe a landing went and other things. He then told me to shut the engine down and he started getting out and he asked me if I was ready to solo. I was kind of like ‘Really?' I never expected that I was going to have my first solo flight that day.”
Noll continued her lessons and logged 150 flight hours before she received her pilot's license at 17 even though a person only needs between 30 to 40 hours.
In 2009 Noll received both a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree from Arizona Western College since most of the homeschool classes she took were arduous enough to qualify as college credits.
She is currently enrolled in the aviation program at the University of North Dakota where she is working on her certified flight instructor's certificate.
Upon graduation, Katrina hopes to work as a flight instructor so she can assist others in achieving their dreams of flying.
“I just want to be able to pass (my knowledge) on to others who are willing to learn,” said Noll. “I was fortunate to have an instructor who was willing and enthusiastic to work with a 16 year-old and I would like to be able to give someone else that opportunity.”
A Brief History of Women in Aviation
1911: Harriet Quimby became the first American woman to earn a pilot's certificate.
1912: Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
1921: Bessie Coleman became the first African-American woman to earn a pilot's certificate.
1935: Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific.
1953: Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier.
1983: Sally Ride became the first American woman in outer space.
2006: Maj. Nicole Malachowski became the first woman to join the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
2008: Jessica Cox became the first person without arms to earn a sport pilot's certificate.
2009: President Barack Obama signs a bill recognizing the World War II Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) and awards them Congressional Gold Medals. When the group was established in 1942, they became the first U.S. women to fly military aircraft.
Information provided by the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association