Yesenia’s fantasies of flight

Yesenia Shaffer outside Fantasy of Flight. Photo: John Stemple

Yesenia Shaffer outside Fantasy of Flight.
Photo: John Stemple

June 18, 2013 – While touring Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Fla., student pilot Yesenia Shaffer spoke about her aspirations related to flying. She is presently interning and learning to fly at Tailwheels Etc., a flight school and maintenance facility at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Fla. “Flying has been a dream of mine since childhood,” said Yesenia. “I stare up at the eagles and ospreys soaring in the Florida skies and wish I was up there with them.”

Yesenia poses with the "Tailwheels Etc." Stearman. Photo: John Stemple

Yesenia poses with the “Tailwheels Etc.” Stearman.
Photo: John Stemple

Glancing at a poster in Fantasy of Flight’s lobby, Ms. Shaffer commented, “I am struck by how art imitates life.” She continued, “The other day at home I browsed Steven Greenwald Designs’ ‘The Art of Aircraft’ Internet pages.” Yesenia then remarked, “The Martin-Young Collection paintings are stunning. They capture airplanes so uniquely and make me want to fly even more intensely.”

Within the massive facility, Ms. Shaffer marveled at all the classic aeroplanes. Eventually, the F4U-4 Corsair seduced her. The graceful gull wings, powerful engine and large propeller were compelling. “This is my favorite,” Yesenia announced. “How I want to fly one!”

Yesenia poses with the F4U-4 Corsair. Photo: John Stemple

Yesenia poses with the F4U-4 Corsair.
Photo: John Stemple

Determined to earn her wings, Yesenia is actively pursuing her goal. The single mother faces the challenges of parenthood and simultaneously pursuing her dream. “I am thankful for the encouragement of family and friends,” commented Yesenia.

Ms. Shaffer hopes to win a scholarship for advanced training from The Arthur M. Godfrey Aviation Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides funds for aspiring young aviators. In fact, since funding available from a number of sources, Yesenia stated the following: “There is no reason a teenager or young adult cannot obtain sufficient monies to earn pilot ratings. Even if I do not win a scholarship I won’t be deterred.”

Jack Brown's Seaplane Base. Photo: John Stemple

Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base.
Photo: John Stemple

Yesenia’s recent orientation flight in one of Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base’s Piper Cubs provided a thrill. “Taking off and landing on water was so stimulating! I did not want the session to end,” said Ms. Shaffer. She continued, “The view of the myriad of lakes, with the bright blue skies above, is absolutely stunning!” Yesenia added, “When I was flying the plane the feeling was one of total exhilaration! I can now better understand what the author was expressing when he wrote Psalm 55:6.” The passage reads as follows: “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.”

Yesenia posing with the Grumman F3F. Photo: John Stemple

Yesenia posing with the Grumman F3F.
Photo: John Stemple

Fittingly, her escort pointed out that within a home adjacent to Brown’s on Lake Jessie the classic 1970 Richard Bach book Jonathan Livingston Seagull took form. With a smile on her face, Yesenia concluded, “I too am stretching my wings. I’ll make this goal of mine come to fruition. It is only a matter of time.”


The author (John Stemple) thanks Yesenia Shaffer, Fantasy of Flight, Tailwheels Etc., and Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base for their cooperation and assistance.

Reference Links

F4U-4 Corsair

Fantasy of Flight

Grumman F3F-2

Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, New York: Avon, 1970.

Tailwheels Etc.

The Art of Aircraft

The Arthur M. Godfrey Aviation Foundation, Inc.

2 Responses to Yesenia’s fantasies of flight

  1. Jenn Bishop says:

    This young lady is so fortunate to have a vision she can pursue. What a wonderful article, it made me tear up and laugh at the same time in happiness for her. I always wanted to fly but was always told “Girls don’t fly” but they don’t say that now do they?
    You go grab the gold ring girl, chase your dream and make it happen. I wish I had.
    Thank you for this beautiful article 🙂

  2. Paul Garland says:

    I have been a commercial pilot for many years I encourage young people to learn to fly all the time. Girls do fly. We have many young girls and older women learning to fly and getting their private license some even go on to get their commercial. Girls do fly.

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