Susan Patterson is a former pilot currently based out of Arizona and joins us this week for Weekly Woman!
Watch the interview here:
Listen to the interview here:
Read the interview here:
Alice: Great, cool. So, hi everyone! I’m Alice, the social media manager for Jubilance and I’m talking with Susan Patterson today. Susan is a former pilot currently based out of Arizona. So, welcome Susan, thank you so much for joining us!
Susan: Thank you! Thank you for having me, I really appreciate it.
Alice: Yes. I just want to start off with some like more fun questions. What is your favorite dessert?
Susan: So, I’ll say blueberry muffins.
Susan: Yes. I’m not a big sweet person. I know it’s a weird thing but if I have a sweet tooth, it’s more like a muffin kind of thing.
Alice: Okay. Those are really good, yes, what are you currently watching on TV?
Susan: So, currently, I’m not really up to date with television but I’ve been watching The Vampire Diaries series. Have you ever seen it?
Alice: It’s so good. I’m so in love with Damon.
Susan: I know! I mean at first, you’re like, “Who is this guy?” And then as time goes on, you’re like, “Yes, he’s like the best character.” So, I’m on about season four right now.
Alice: What is the other one’s name? Stefan!
Susan: Stefan. Yes, as time goes on, you’re like, “Oh, I’m over him.” Yes.
Alice: That’s really funny. What is your must-have essential item in your purse?
Susan: Okay, so must-haves. Chapstick, number one. Hair tie, number two. And I don’t think I have a third, those are my go-to’s, yes.
Alice: Okay. Those are really important.
Susan: Those are important. Yes.
Susan: Girls need hair ties for sure.
Alice: Can you talk about where you’re living now in Arizona and what made you move from there, are you from there originally?
Susan: No, I’m originally from Ohio and I’ve been in Tucson on and off for probably a good 15 years now and Tucson is awesome. Right now this time of the year is when we’re just now getting really nice and so fall time here, we don’t get much seasons but this is when it finally goes from 100 – 115 degrees. We finally start getting like our nice 70-degree, 80-degree weather. And so, right now everybody’s opening their windows and starting to show up out hiking and outside in the middle of the day, which just doesn’t happen in the middle of summer here.
Alice: That’s amazing.
Alice: What’s your favorite thing about Arizona?
Susan: I mean, honestly the weather, the weather. Some people would say they would prefer cold and some prefer warm, I take the warm any day.
Alice: Yes, I completely agree. I’m from San Diego originally and so–
Susan: Oh! Okay
Alice: –whenever winter strikes here in New York, it’s just horrendous.
Susan: Yes, I totally understand, like living out in Ohio, I lived in Milwaukee for a while–
Alice: Oh, my God.
Susan: –and the snow effect was five feet, four feet of snow sometimes.
Alice: That’s horrible.
Susan: So going from Arizona to that, and then I moved back to Arizona. It was a big relief not dealing with the snow but I love it every once in a while. So, like a good vacation and snow is great.
Alice: Oh, that’s nice.
Alice: So, you have like more of a typical fall then, because you’re getting like kind of summer-ish weather, do you have?–
Alice: That you guys still do?
Susan: You know, I have– I’m not one that does a whole lot of like traditional stuff, when I was a kid we did and we did the Halloween and I don’t have any kids, and so therefore some of that kind of falls out the window, but it is kind of a time of celebration where everybody does start coming out of the woodwork so comparable to the east coast it’s when you guys hit summer and you guys are all like rejoicing, you’re like, “We can finally come out with our shorts on!” and so, we can finally come out without the sun just like burning us to death.
Alice: Oh my gosh.
Susan: Yes, so not really anything formal but it is a cause for celebration once you hit that mark.
Alice: Yes, that does sound awesome. Can you talk to me about where you got to where you are? You are and were a female pilot. That’s pretty amazing. Can you talk about that?
Susan: Yes. So, it’s funny, I never viewed it as anything all that different until kind of after the fact of starting it and even in the midst of doing it, I never thought of it as something very different. I grew up doing swimming, which is a coed sport, so a lot of practices and a lot of training is coed. And I went to a college that was a pretty liberal college and all the dorms were coed. So, I never thought a whole lot about gender and I think that it’s maybe just a personality thing that I’ve had, so getting into it, I can say the only thing that sparked it was, I finished college, my dad had gotten his private pilot’s license, which is the very first license you can get for a person to jump in a small little airplane all by themselves, and go, like kind of piddle around in the sky.
And so, I had finished coaching a swim team for the summer after I graduated, and my dad simply suggested, “You know, why don’t you take some flying lessons?” And it just opened up a whole can of worms, and I was in Ohio at the time. And so, the circumstances as you know, on that side of the country, the weather is really hit or miss.
And when you’re first learning, you need clear skies, it’s a lot easier when it’s like, just sunny, there’s no rain, there’s no clouds, that’s how you have to learn. And so, I started learning how to fly just a single engine, tiny little four-seater airplane, and I did it on the weekends.
I quickly realized doing it just on the weekends, you get some overlap. So if you only do it once or twice a week, you have to kind of go backwards to relearn some of the hand-eye coordination and stuff like that. So I was doing that for a while and realizing that I was just kind of going through money, I wasn’t really getting anywhere. And I tend to be like a goal setter, like “go big or go home” kind of person. So, I started looking on the internet, I found like a really big flight academy that was well known out in Arizona, jumped in my car, took a road trip out to Phoenix, and checked out the flight school and it was as simple as I just signed up.
So, it was like a full-time academy, and so I went to a full time academy there, I went to a few other schools in between and you have to go through a series of getting different licenses. And so, you have to learn how to fly a single engine, and then you have to learn how to fly a twin engine, so for two engines. You have to learn certain powered airplanes. And then you go through a process of learning how to get your precision good enough to get what’s called a commercial license.
So, I did all of that out in Arizona and various different flight schools. And then I did a– it was an opportunity to go out to New Mexico and do some jet training. So I learned how to fly a jet. That was all in simulators, though, so I wasn’t really in a real jet at that point. But I was out in Farmington, New Mexico for a while doing this program, real small program, but it was really cool because it set you up to fly a jet which is totally different from the smaller airplanes. And long story short from there, I came to Tucson, and I got a flight instructing job. And so I taught people how to fly airplanes.
Susan: And so, this is kind of a fast-forward through about maybe three and a half years or so maybe four. And then I taught people how to fly for about two and a half years, and then from there, which is an awesome thing to do and it’s really common for pilots to do that, they use teaching as a stepping stone to gain hours. So, you want to gain hours to get to an airline. Does that make sense?
Alice: Do you need a certain number of air hours then?
Susan: Yes. So, to get to the air airlines they want you to have a certain amount of time in a twin engine, a small airplane, it doesn’t have to be a jet, but it can be a small twin engine, and just a certain amount of hours in general. And so, I did that through Fly Instructing.
Susan: And that was quite an experience, teaching people how to fly. And just from there I went to the airlines and I was at the airlines for a few years.
Susan: Yes, all a really awesome, interesting experience. And it all just started with my dad saying, “Why don’t you just take a few lessons? Keep your mind and your body busy.” And so, he just opened up a can of worms, you know.
Alice: That’s amazing.
Susan: And that’s how I ended up in Arizona, long story short, yes.
Alice: What airlines did you fly for
Susan: So, I was with Skywest Airlines. Sometimes you see it on your ticket and sometimes they advertise but they are what they post-share. They’re an airline that flies for Delta and for United. And sometimes that changes, so it’s all kind of politics on who they’re fly under but they are basically a commuter airline that flies these jets that are– they’re not the really big ones, they’re the ones that have like two seats on each side of the airplane.
Alice: Oh, okay.
Susan: So, those smaller–
Susan: If you’ve ever flown in– and there’s two in there’s two and two, as opposed to like two seats, and then three and then two, or like two seats, and then like three on the other side. So, they’re a little smaller, but the industry converted to those a lot because it was just efficient, they could fill up airplanes easier they weren’t flying really huge jets around the country that were only half full. And so, it became a really popular thing and it still is to this day. So yes–
Alice: Oh, that’s really interesting.
Alice: And it really seems like when I poke my head into, like, the pilot’s cabin.
Alice: There are the– the two pilots. How does that work?
Susan: Yes, that’s a good question, there’s a few misconceptions about that. So, a lot of times people ask, “Which one is the pilot?” so, the truth of the matter is they’re both pilots.
Susan: And one’s just in charge, so, one’s kind of the boss of the flight. And then the– the other one is the– okay, when it comes to an emergency or when it comes to certain procedures, we each have our job, but the person on the left, so, if you’re walking then the person on the left is the captain, and the person that is– I’m trying not to cover my camera, sorry.
Susan: And then the person on the right is the first officer. And so, I was the first officer the whole time.
Susan: I ended up getting an injury and never promoted to being the captain. But essentially, the difference is if you have an emergency, the captain takes over, or when it comes to kind of delegating, “Who’s gonna do the airplane checks? Or who’s going to be doing all the paperwork?” He’ll delegate it, which is usually actually for the first officer. [laughter] While he sits there and relaxes, yes.
Alice: Oh, okay!
Susan: So, I was always the first officer but what you do is you switch off so in a jet, it’s a two-man crew. So, that means that it is required that two people must be flying the airplane. There’s jobs for non-flying pilot and for the flying pilot in an airline. And so you have to learn the role, whether you’re a first officer or whether you’re a captain, you have to learn the role as the flying pilot or as the non-flying pilot. And then so, every flight you do we switch on and off. And then some captain, a lot of times the captains will be the ones that pick which flights they want to do or which ones they prefer. And it depends on who you fly with, some of them will– will leave it up to me and say, “Hey, which flights do you want? Do you want this one, that one?” and so, it totally depends on who you fly with, and so, your roles just get reversed when you’re either the flying pilot or the non-flying pilot. So the non-flying pilot will run the radios and run other various little procedures here and there, while the main role of the flying pilot is to just focus on the airplane. Just focus on the flying, focus on all the digital autopilot, the mapping, if need be the hand-flying skills, the non-flying pilot is typically who coordinates and talks to the person to the flight attendants and back and to all the– sometimes you listen to–
Alice: The radio announcements.
Susan: Yes, and the radio announcements of like, “Hi, welcome to wherever we’re located. Welcome to Austin today!”
Alice: Oh, cool!
Susan: So, that’s the non-flying pilot’s job is to run all that work. And so, that’s kind of a little bit of a misconception that people don’t understand.
Alice: Yes! That’s really fascinating I didn’t know anything about that.
Susan: Yes, it’s a kind of a secret world, that’s part of what I got so fascinated with. When I wanted to be a pilot, I kept seeing these planes up high, these jets and I thought, “I just wonder what it’s like up there?” Like, “What are they–?” and when they shut the door I’m like, “I want to know what they’re doing!”
Susan: “What are they doing up there?” So, that’s like a little insight to it.
Alice: Well, that is so cool. Thank you for sharing.
Susan: Yes, it is a neat kind of hidden world that a lot of people don’t really know how it goes.
Susan: Yes, so that’s the just of it.
Alice: Thank you. Can you talk about being a female in a male-dominated industry?
Susan: Yes, like I said, I grew up in such a such a coed environment. And I wouldn’t say I was I was ever involved in like the typical segregation of like male versus female identity. And so, I think every female could probably give you a different answer on what it was like but I will say that in some ways it was just completely easy and I didn’t realize there was any difference between me. And there were some other females too. And we definitely– there was a unspoken code for sure that we stuck together, we all had each other’s back, we all made sure we were okay, we took care of each other and we became friends. And so, there weren’t very many of us, and so when there were some of us, it was a really cool thing.
So, I had a lot of reasons why it didn’t bother me at all, one thing I did notice is I did feel the need to overachieve a little bit? Because there are a few male opinions out there that are naysayers this day and age, you know, it depends on the individual, you’ll always find it, you’re going to find the most open of characters and you’re going to find the most closed-minded of characters and you never know which guy you’re going to fly with that day. [Chuckles]
And so, you have to be prepared, and so I definitely prepared myself in a way to make sure I was always above and beyond, crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s just to make sure I wasn’t even just average. I wanted to be really, really conscientious to be above and beyond, because I wanted to make sure there was no stereotypes put there. The biggest hurdle I think was– I was treated with respect, which is great it was awesome I never had issues with a lack of respect.
Sometimes I could tell in a male-dominated industry they’re so used to flying with other men that I always say, “Don’t hold back, I’m just like everybody else you can treat me the same as anybody else.” And they would definitely mind their P’s and Q’s more.
I’m like, “You can talk to me like any other like any boy any guy you would fly with.” And I could say that, but they– they were definitely like under their best behavior–
Susan: –with the female. Yes! it’s not a bad thing!
Susan: It’s definitely not a bad thing, but I definitely would know that they would come into work going, “Okay, I need to be under my best behavior, we’re flying with a girl.” And there were a couple of times, so, which sparked a comment that I made under your Facebook group is that I had times where I was with an all-female crew, flight attendant, both pilots and it was just amazing, it was an amazing experience because of just the comments you would get from all the passengers realizing and a lot of times coming on board they didn’t know but getting off the plane they would see and they were like– we would get claps we would get like high fives, and so, it was it was totally a neat experience when it would happen, yes.
Alice: And speaking of like a new subject, I guess. Can you talk about your PMS and what you would experience every month and then trying Jubilance?
Susan: Totally. So, I would say I’ve always definitely had PMS. When I was younger, so early 20s, mid-20s it was very much like a physical thing. And then as I’ve gotten older, I’m 39 now, it gradually morphed into a mental issue where the moodiness it turned into just massive amounts of anxiety. And surprisingly, I just didn’t– I honestly– it was like a Jekyll and Hyde that I couldn’t figure out I had to start tracking everything about my health to really figure out what it was, and this was probably about three or four years ago. So, it was kind of in my mid-30s, when I started getting the more severe ends of PMS.
And tracking it literally started– like I knew when I ovulated because I could tell by my mood and by my anxiety and my ability to handle social situations [laughter] that’s the way I’ll put it.
Alice: I know.
Susan: And it would increasingly get worse from that day, and there were times that it lasted even as long as two weeks. And so, it turned into this joke that I’m like, I have like one good week out of the month.
Alice: That’s terrible.
Susan: So, I came across your product and I actually, I’m really new to it. And I started it and I noticed an immediate difference. And so, I’d love to give you guys updates like as I as I continue to use it.
Alice: Thank you.
Susan: But there’s so many products that you see advertised nowadays on Facebook and whatnot. And one thing that I liked about you guys was that it was realistic, so, you gave statistics that weren’t like “You’re cured! You’re you’re totally cured!”
Susan: Which is unrealistic, and I tried everything that all the women out there that have this issue. I’ve tried all of it, I’ve tried lowering my stress level or my schedule, I’ve tried the antidepressants, I’ve tried my massive diet changes, birth control options and nothing worked at all. And so, I came across this and I thought, “I just have nothing to lose! So, let’s give it a go!” and so far it’s been a month, so, I’m new to the product.
Susan: But that very first month, and I know some people have said you have to let it build up for like a month or two. For me it was pretty instantaneous where I didn’t get– I was a good like five days out before my before my cycle or, I’m sorry, before my period would start. And I was like, “I’m still human, check me out, I’m human!”
Susan: “This is amazing!” and then so, I still had some symptoms, but they were so decreased, they were so much less.
Susan: And so, I had about maybe three or four days where I kind of got into that spiral a little worse. And maybe for about two days it was like a full-on, but just compared to before there were days. I mean, it was almost like– I have learned how to schedule my life around this issue. And it’s definitely, like I said, gotten worse as I hit my upper 30s, and so you kind of go into this like– and then they tell you, “Menopause is even worse.” Like what’s–?
Alice: Come on!
Susan: Like what’s– How? How? so, anyhow yes, it’s been really amazing so far and the next cycle, I’ll send an update.
Alice: Yes. Please keep us updated on how it’s going.
Susan: Yes but the statistics– and I love that you guys say honestly like it, “We’ve noticed it works for most women, but not all of them.”
Susan: Honestly there still is maybe a little bit of irritability?
Susan: But decreased. For me, the biggest symptoms were depression and anxiety. And so, they would be pretty debilitating and it was almost like, “Well, which person am I? am I the person the first two weeks of the month of the last two weeks of the month? I’m not really sure.”
Susan: And it almost had a really insane clarity for me this last month of like, “Okay, I’m not totally crazy here, there’s something to it, I don’t just one week love all these things I love in life and then the next week hate everything.”
Susan: You know?
Alice: And it be feeling that way which is why this is something like–
Susan: It’s so archaic!
Alice: And just like what we were saying before is that people don’t talk about this, and people don’t–
Alice: –like a lot of things for this
Alice: And as you were saying 50% of the population has PMS.
Susan: Yes, and I asked you–
Alice: It’s time to figure it out!
Susan: Yes, and I would ask other women too and– and so, I gathered that I may be on the severe end, but I asked other women too and they definitely are like, “Oh yes, I’m just crazy and I can’t stand it.” And it’s like, how do we all do this? I have no clue–
Alice: Every month!
Susan: How every single month? So, like powered up women for putting up with it, men have no idea, they have no clue.
Susan: They have no clue.
Alice: Yes. You just hope that Jubilance can be like–
Susan: And I’m glad they don’t, but you know.
Alice: Yes. We just hope it can be something that can like really help women. Like we’re business like a family– and so, I started taking this in college like five years ago because my dad and mom did some research on oxaloacetate and they were like, “You’re having a terrible, time try this.”
Susan: So, they recognized it, okay.
Alice: Yes, and so I tried it and I felt so much better and then–
Susan: That’s amazing!
Alice: Started hearing from like other doctors that different women that were coming back and saying, “This is helping my PMS.” So, that’s why we did the clinical trials last year because it was like me and some like other women who like were really being helped by it so if we can help others, that’s the goal. And to like–
Susan: And so, your parents had an indication that there was this kind of blood sugar stabilizing agent?
Susan: Because that’s so cool that somebody was able to just point it out to you and be like, “Hey, try this.”
Alice: Yes, I mean–
Susan: Because for the longest time I didn’t even understand what was happening to me because my issue started so early that I’m like, “This couldn’t be PMS, this is so early, like I’m not even close to the time where I should be having PMS.” But as I tracked it and tracked it really was the case it was like– yes, it was night and day. And so I’m seeing the results too where I’m like, I’m new to it and so I’ve been taking it almost a full month now, but I can see how it can potentially be like a game-changer, and just how you can deal with life.
Susan: Life it just makes– especially after you’ve had to learn how to deal with it? And then you’re like, “Wait, I don’t have to have to?”
Alice: Don’t have to now.
Susan: Or I have to this some, you know–
Alice: Just a little bit, yes.
Susan: Yes, a little bit, yes.
Susan: Yes, no problem.
Alice: It is like that stabilizer, it’s just making your like the peaks and waves that’s like your emotions just flow a little bit more, so you’re getting ups and downs, but just–
Alice: –not as much.
Susan: You just described it perfectly. So I made a little post and it was kind of a joke about, yes, there’s like the snapping turtle effect. And it seems like the snapping turtle was muffled this last month.
Susan: I could still feel a little quicker to get anxious or a little quicker to be just slower in my stuff and my enthusiasm, but there was such a buffer to it that it was awesome Alice.
Alice: That’s great!
Susan: It was cool. Yes.
Alice: I know. I always feel like I just want chocolate all of the time, so you’re–
Susan: Can someone even say that? Yes. Yes, and I can’t relate to that very much.
Alice: That’s great.
Susan: This might be–
Alice: Stay away!
Susan: –something totally different. But my anxiety would get bad enough that I couldn’t eat. And so, by the last like eight or nine days I was just trying to live off liquids because my stomach was so anxiety-ridden that I couldn’t eat this last month. I was like, eating sandwiches, I’m like, “What is this? I want a sandwich right now?” I mean, I think most women might kill me for saying that because most people get pretty heavy cravings. But mine was the opposite where it would just shut my system down completely. Like, I couldn’t handle food very well.
Susan: And so now, I’m out buying all the– I was just like, kind of pigging out. So to me, I was like, “This is amazing! I’m pigging out.”
Alice: That’s awesome.
Susan: Yes. So, maybe not on the typical spectrum, but maybe somebody can relate to it out there.
Alice: Thanks for sharing, Susan.
Alice: Yes. And I just want to know, what’s next for you? So, you said you were piloting, what are you going to do now? What are you up to?
Susan: So what I’ve been up to, I ended up having kind of a nasty spinal injury and–
Alice: Oh my gosh.
Susan: And so, I went through a couple surgeries and the last surgery was 2016. And I had a spinal fusion in my lumbar spine. And so, it’s taken probably a good couple of years to recover from that and I also have some residual aftermath and chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with. So, I’ve been nipping that in the bud, just step by step little by little, I did something called the “ketamine therapy” which it’s a whole new subject is a little controversial, but it is meant to nip chronic pain in the bud.
So, I was having chronic pain in my spine from these surgeries and from the injury. And so, I just started kind of getting back on track, but in the meantime when I was taking time off from the injury, I’ve been breeding a hybrid cat called a “Savannah” and it was just something that I thought, “What is something that I would love to do that never in a million years I could possibly do as a pilot?” like, “Let me just think of–” and so, that’s what I chose a few years ago.
Alice: That’s so cool.
Susan: And so, it’s a hybrid cat and– which it’s a mix between an African Serval, it kind of looks like a miniature Cheetah, I guess.
Alice: That’s awesome.
Susan: And so, it’s a mix between that and domestic cat. And so, there’s a lot of information behind the Savannah cat, but– so, what I’ve been up to in the meantime when I’ve been home a lot and just not feeling that great physically from surgery and recovery, is I had been working on this breed and working with some of the kind of the founders that– it’s a very new breed of cat, and so, working with some of the founders a bit. And so, I’m kind of slowly closing that chapter right now.
Alice: Oh, interesting.
Susan: And deciding, what’s my next? What do I want next? And I broke my foot so I’m on hold until about probably until the end of the year. And it’s a great time to just take it easy and enjoy stuff, I started taking guitar lessons.
Susan: Just trying to get into things to see like, “What I love doing now? What’s the newest stuff that I love?” always a possibility that I go back to aviation.
Susan: If I want to, I’m still debating if it’s a “been there done that, it was awesome” or if it’s something that I want to revisit.
Alice: Wow. That’s a amazing.
Alice: That’s so cool Susan.
Susan: Yes, so it’s been kind of– I get a little bit of time off at the time being.
Alice: That’s cool.
Susan: Not going to hate it.
Alice: That’s great.
Alice: To just leave off today, I just want to ask you, if you had one piece of advice for women out there, just like a sentence or cue, what would it be? About really anything.
Susan: Yes, you know what, never hold back regarding gender, never, never hold back. I could say one time in my life, I had a thought where I really wanted to join the drums in high school. And it was probably the only time that I really thought like in terms of gender and I thought– I tested actually highest for the drums, and I didn’t do it because I was like, “It’s just all the boys are doing it.” And so, I picked up doing the flute because that was what all the other girls were doing, I hated it, dropped it right from the get-go, just– It wasn’t me!
So, at the end of the day, male or female, I’d like to think you know, we are equal, and we’re also different. There is truth to the fact that we have different strengths and weaknesses but at the end of the day, we are equally capable of everything. We’re all human and every human has a strength and a weakness. But when it comes down to it, never keep your dreams inside, like the worst thing you can do with your life is just hold on to those dreams and it just be a dream, let them come out, express them and you’re automatically going to fail if you don’t try.
I’m no superwoman, I was no perfect student, I’m just that average person that came along and had a dream, and chose it and went for it. And sometimes dreams aren’t easy to achieve, but they’re so worth it compared to the pain of not doing one or not allowing yourself to. And so, that’s a big thing that I would really, really want to express to women and anybody to just like get out there and start doing, just start doing. Dreaming, it doesn’t get you anywhere except for that pain inside of wanting it, so take the baby steps that’s the best advice I can offer.
Alice: Thank you so much, Susan.
Alice: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Susan: No, I can’t think of anything. Do you have any more questions?
Alice: No, this was awesome, yes. Thank you so much for being on today!
Susan: Great, yes I love being on, thank you so much for having me, Alice.
Alice: Yes, that was nice, getting to meet you. And please do keep us updated.
Susan: Yes, I will for sure. I will keep updated on the on the group site, yes.
Alice: Okay, great. Good.
Susan: Yes, I’ve been pretty excited about it, so–
Susan: I will–
Alice: Continues to help.
Susan: Update number two coming up in a couple of weeks. [Laughs]
Alice: Great, perfect. Okay!
Alice: Have a great rest of your day, Susan.
Susan: Thank you.
Susan: Thank you, Alice.