For Immediate Release – March 31, 2022, San Diego, California
“My vision went from black and white to color.”
“I was absolutely and completely in awe of the miracle of flight in that little plane! I knew exactly what I wanted to do in life.”
Pilots have come to aviation from all directions, but Charnell’s path had more zigzags than most. She had degrees in accounting and chemistry but worked as a flight attendant and enjoyed flying and travelling to new places.
When she signed up for that introductory “discovery flight” in 2002 it clinched the deal.
Charnell took out loans to pay for flight instruction and was on the way to her Commercial Certificate when she needed to leave her flight attendant job. Trained in human resources work, she found full-time employment in business, and with the demands of raising a family, she thought, kissed her aviation dreams goodbye.
Thirteen years passed. It was 2016, and the airlines were hiring again. With her daughter finishing high school, she was at a crossroads. It was now, she thought, or never.
“You hear about ‘second chances’ and ‘new starts’, but rarely about as bold a decision as Charnell Walls made,” said Martha King, co-founder, with her husband John King, of King Schools. “At the age of 50, she enrolled in the Aviation Department at the University of Oklahoma and sold her house to pay the tuition.”
Charnell resides in Diboll TX, and graduated with honors, with a Bachelor’s in Aviation Management including the University’s prestigious Letzeiser Award for achievement and community service. She will soon begin flying professionally for Cape Air. “During my company training,” she says, “I watched those who had earned their CFI progress more quickly.” But nevertheless, she went on to become a Captain on Cape Air’s fleet of twin-engine Cessnas.
Today, Charnell Walls works for Flight Safety International as a simulator Second-In-Command to assist pilots training in the Falcon 2000 and is resuming her often-interrupted journey toward a CFI certificate. Her King Schools and WAI Scholarship will provide her with a stipend of $5,000 plus lifetime access to the complete library of King Schools courses, which raises the value of the scholarship to over $18,000. Becoming a flight instructor, she knows, will allow her to keep flying professionally beyond 65, the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots.
Charnell remembers her father taking her and her sisters to the airport on weekends to watch the airplanes fly. She learned from him only recently that his childhood dream had been to become a pilot. Life never gave him that chance, but Charnell has realized her father’s dream in his stead. “A double legacy and a double second chance,” she says. “One for me and one for my dad, through me.”
“Charnell Walls is a truly remarkable person,” said Martha King. “It has been a privilege to get to know her and it will be fun for us to watch her go forward.”
About The WAI Martha King Scholarship for Women Flight Instructors – The scholarship is donated by Martha King who, along with her husband John King, created King Schools in 1974. Charnell Walls is the 7th recipient of the scholarship. Applications for the 2023 scholarship will be available on the WAI website in mid-2022. More information is available at these two websites:
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