By Emily Carle
Stories That Fly and the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication will sponsor a Women Take Flight night with special guests Monika Petrillo and Lynda Meeks. The event will include a free screening of Petrillo’s documentary, Flyabout.
The event on Thursday, Nov. 4 will be in the FirstEnergy Auditorium of Franklin Hall. An informal reception starts at 6 p.m. with the show starting at 7 p.m. Both Petrillo and Meeks will speak about their personal experiences in flight and the opportunities available for women.
Petrillo is a writer, producer and director based in Los Angeles. Her debut film, Flyabout, takes the audience through Petrillo’s journey circumnavigating Australia by plane with her father and a small crew. With only 140 hours of flying experience under her belt, there were many obstacles and struggles along the way.
The film has something for everyone and Petrillo knows that Flyabout “is not just a travel log; it touches on many different subject matters: father-daughter conflict, animals, flying, culture of Australia, people who want to tell a story.”
Knowing that many people can relate to her story and find something in the film to connect to, she is “happy to share this with people.”
For everyone, Petrillo hopes to inspire or touch in some way. The film can “inspire people to go after their dreams and not let life pass them by. You have to stop making excuses. Write the story, make that movie, do whatever you love,” Petrillo said.
Though she made the choice to get her pilot’s license, fly around Australia then make a movie about it, others can find their own paths to change their lives.
“My film is my story, but I’ve realized that I can be a role model to girls and women because women see me, and I’m not a hero, I’m a regular person, but I could do this, I could fly a plan around Australia and make a movie about it,” she said.
Lynda Meeks, like Petrillo, is a one woman company who provides a face and a story to inspire people and to be a role model for females.
“I could never imagine myself as a pilot until someone told me it was the hardest branch in the Army, and I like a challenge,” Meeks said. “Why can’t women envision themselves as pilots? Even girls in the first grade know it’s a male dominated industry… women aren’t supposed to be smart at the things it takes to be a pilot.”
Today, Meeks is the founder of the program Girls With Wings while also working as a professional pilot and presenting at other speaking events. Girls With Wings strives for girls to have “Flight Plans, not Fairytales” and it’s a motto Meeks wants all females to understand.
“As women get older, they accept and internalize the message that there are things they can’t do and fields that are not meant for them,” Meeks said. She jokes that “the airplane is just a vehicle,” there are many other avenues and “vehicles” women can take, and Women Take Flight can “broaden horizons, just to find out about something you’ve never experienced.”
Women Take Flight is free but seating is limited to 150 people. Guests must register online for this event athttp://tinyurl.com/flightnight. Women Take Flight is made possible in part by Kent State University Women’s Resource Center, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Stories That Fly, Women in Aviation International and the International Women’s Air & Space Museum.
Emily Carle is a Senior applied communication major and marketing assistant in the College of Communication Dean’s Office.