Port Lavaca pilot passionate about women in aviation

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

Sept. 10, 2017 at 10:30 p.m.
Updated Sept. 11, 2017 at 1:55 a.m.

From left to right are Jan McKenzie, Ninety-Nines international president; Dianna Stanger; and R. Mae Marquet, vice governor Ninety-Nines South East Section.

From left to right are Jan McKenzie, Ninety-Nines international president; Dianna Stanger; and R. Mae Marquet, vice governor Ninety-Nines South East Section.   Contributed by Jan McKenzie for The Victoria Advocate

Dianna Stanger's No. 1 goal in life is to get girls and women involved in aviation.

Only about 6 percent of pilots are women, and Stanger uses her position as Calhoun County Airport manager, chairwoman of Angel Fight South Central and involvement with the Women of Aviation World Wide, to encourage women to join the field.

"The whole reason I became a pilot and a reason I aspire to become a better pilot is because my husband told me I can do anything I wanted to do," said Stanger, 55, of Port Lavaca. "That's what I try to teach the girls - they can do anything they want to do."

Her inspiration comes from her late husband, Alfred Stanger, who died last year.

Stanger received the 2017 Ninety-Nines Award for Achievement for Contributions to Aviation at the Ninety-Nines International Conference this summer. The award acknowledges Stanger for her unprecedented commitment to ensuring the aviation experience for females, more than any other pilot in the world, according to a news release.

"It was a great award," Stanger said. "I'm just so honored because there's so many great aviation females ahead of me."

At a Women of Aviation World Wide event this year, Stanger took about 1,000 girls and women on their first flight in her helicopter. Stanger has seen about a 10 percent success rate for women who went into the aviation field after she introduced them.

She became a pilot in 1994 when she was tired of taking her groceries via boat to an island where her husband owned a house.

With his encouragement, she started her aviation career.

With the Angel Flight South Texas, Stanger gives free rides to medical patients who need transportation because they can't afford it or aren't able to travel commercially.

Aviation became her passion in 2008 when she became the airport manager for Calhoun County Airport, she said.

"Instantly I became hooked on trying to get people excited about flying," she said.

Stanger wants to pass on to other women the phenomenal feeling that she has while flying, she said. Anytime Stanger has the opportunity to take a woman on a flight, she does.

"It's like your first bicycle ride. It's the fact you can take control of something that can transport you," she said. "The first time you fly and you're alone in the sky up with the birds, it's the most amazing feeling there is."


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