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Oro Valley teen works to get pilots license before college

17-year-old wants to change the face of flight industry
Future female pilot Shea Lisak
Posted at 6:54 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 01:20:07-04

TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — An Oro valley teen is taking to the skies to get her pilots license while looking to change the future and face of the flight industry. 17-year-old Shea Lisak is a teen on a mission, the Ironwood Ridge High School senior is on her way to the Arizona State University professional flight program in the fall, but before she gets there, she's planning to get her pilot's license over the summer. Lisak started taking lessons from longtime flight instructor Ron Wiener at La Cholla Airpark in Oro Valley last fall.

"The feeling of taking off I just loved it, I’m hoping to become a commercial airline pilot,” Lisak said. "I started considering it and after my first flight with Ron I really knew that’s what I wanted to do. I researched pilots, female pilots specifically and there’s a very low percentage. I wanted to prove that I could do it."

Parents Laurie and Rob Lisak say they’re proud of their daughter and are excited that’s she’s discovered her passion and is following her dreams. Shea took her first solo flight in Marana last month and sealed the deal on her love of flying.

"I’m proud of her that she really wants to do this,” Laurie Lisak said. "She’s pursuing her dreams and that’s all you ever want for your child so I’m happy."

"We sat down and talked about it, she was serious about it, so we said then you need to be the best,” Rob Lisak said. "We put a flight simulator together on our computer at home, so she practices at home."

According to the Pilot Institute, there are nearly 65,000 female pilots and that only accounts for 9% of the workforce.

“Just go for it I never thought this is where I would end up but here, I am,” Lisak said. "Just knowing that I’m controlling something so powerful and up in the sky is amazing. I always looked up to superheroes and stuff when I was younger, so flying is really cool for me."

An 81-year-old instructor Ron Wiener has been giving flying lessons to pilots since the 1960’s. He has had plenty of students over the years and says Shea is talented and soaks up flight information like a sponge.

"When it's time to change the oil, I tell her to bring some old clothes over so she can learn what’s underneath the cowling of the airplane,” Wiener said.

The Lisaks also use the Life 360 safety app and get regular alerts about Shea speeding on a regular basis and talk about high numbers.

"We’ll get alerts that Shea is going 118 miles per hour in the desert and it’s the funniest thing because we know she’s flying,” Laurie Lisak said.

No matter what the future holds, Shea is more than ready to take on any challenge that comes her way to make her mark in the sky.

“I’m really proud of myself for how far I’ve gotten, and I am inspired to continue and keep pushing through it even though I know it's going to be challenging at times but I’m just going to keep working hard and I’m not going to give up,” Lisak said.

Shawndrea Thomas is an anchor and investigative reporter for KGUN 9. Shawndrea is living her dream as a journalist who’s passionate about making a difference. Share your story ideas and important issues with Shawndrea by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.