Jet Fuel in My Baby Bottle

By Capt. Kristin Rice (Envoy Air)

I grew up immersed in aviation. My grandfather, Dick Bourland, began flying for TWA when he was 24 years old and went on to spend 34 years at American Airlines. He also owned a flight school and developed Bourland Field Estates, an airpark outside of Fort Worth, Tex. My father, Blake Bourland, flew the F-117A in Desert Storm and is currently a captain at Southwest Airlines. My mother’s father, Raymond Jopes, flew Hueys and Cobras in Vietnam. So there must have been a little jet fuel in my baby bottle.

I spent my summers at Bourland Field. From the first day I set foot on the tarmac, I would sit and watch airplanes roll down the runway and blast into the sky. I instantly knew that aviation was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I would sneak into the Frasca simulator and pretend I was a pilot. I would beg my grandfather to let the instructors take me up flying. It was a complete rush!

I took a few years off from aviation while in college, but after graduation I decided that flying was what I really wanted to do. I applied and was quickly accepted to Mesa’s pilot development program. I attained all my pilot ratings in 15 months and began work for Mesa in late 2008. Of the many benefits of flying for Mesa, the most personal to me was that I was finally in CASS. I immediately jumpseated with my dad on one of his trips. It was an absolute blast!

I was furloughed from Mesa after only five months, but that small taste of being an airline pilot was enough to convince me to persevere. To stay in the cockpit, I obtained my MEI, CFII, and CFI ratings in a little over a month and began work for U.S. Flight Academy. After a little more than a year and more than 1,000 hours of instruction, I was hired by American Eagle, now Envoy Air, and upgraded to captain this month.

My father and I both fly out of Dallas, Tex., but unfortunately at different airports so our flying paths haven’t crossed since I jumpseated with him many years ago. I currently live near Baltimore, Md., and after almost seven years at Envoy my long commute home from Dallas finally led to me passing through Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport at the same time as my father. I waited for him to arrive at the gate and for the first time we were both together in uniform! I took a photo and posted on Facebook about this special moment with my dad.

My father has helped me immensely to achieve my dreams and aspirations of becoming an airline pilot. It’s exciting to be the first female aviator in our family, one generation to the next!