NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Changing careers is a big deal at any age, but it takes courage when you leave a career as a lawyer. That’s exactly what a young woman from Nashville did after finding another calling in the clouds.
Karina Aguirre, 28, quit her career as a lawyer last year to pursue her new dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot. Her father is a pilot and Aguirre grew up around him, but she never wanted to fly until she was 24.
“One time I was flying with my dad, and it was a moment of curiosity — it was an a-ha moment where I just wanted to take the controls and see what it was like,” Aguirre told News4. “I loved it. It just clicked on the spot. I came back to Nashville, enrolled in flight school, and the rest is history.
Aguirre grew up in Mexico, where she earned her law degree at age 18. At 19, she moved to New York to work for the United Nations for several years under the 3rd Committee. The 3rd Committee specializes in human rights on policy development and regulation of child labor. Aguirre has taken to forums to discuss action plans for nations to come together and find solutions in this profession.
Later, Aguirre landed a job at a European bank with US operations in Nashville and transferred as HR operations manager. She has led ten countries in the Americas. His team managed onboarding, lifecycle and exit operations, while Aguirre focused on employment contracts and guided people through their roles at the bank.
But after that time on the plane, she started pursuing her private license to fly.
“The main reason I decided to pursue my private pilot certificate was to have some time to myself,” Aguirre said. “15 to 20 hours later, I was like, ‘I feel like this is more than a hobby. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do next.
At 27, Aguirre left her career as a lawyer to pursue her new dream of becoming a professional pilot. Women make up only 8% of pilots in the United States.
When training to become a pilot, cost is a huge factor. The average price for training around Nashville is $225 per hour. To receive a private license, you must complete at least 40 flight hours, which costs $9,000. Most people test for 60 hours, which costs around $13,500, and that’s to fly for fun. It takes even more, to be fired to get paid to fly.
“My main goal is to be a commercial airline pilot,” Aguirre said.
For Aguirre to apply to be a regional airline pilot (pilot of planes that can accommodate 90 passengers), she needs 1,000 flight hours. She would be hired once she had completed 1,500 hours.
She was approached by the 99′s, the international organization that brings together female pilots, to start a chapter in Nashville.
“It’s the only organization in the world where you have to be a woman and a pilot,” Aguirre said.
After recruiting other female pilots to help, they launched the organization and held their first official meeting in November 2021. The goal is to offer support to other female pilots who are passionate about flying. Plus, they offer mentorships and scholarships because flying is expensive.
The organization includes female pilots between the ages of 16 and 72.
“When you’re passionate about something, you want to share it,” Aguirre told News4. “I feel like it’s my calling to work in this industry and share the joy of flight.”
If you’re interested in learning to fly, contact Tennessee Flight Training – with locations at BNA in Nashville or Maury County. Ask to take a discovery flight with a certified flight instructor to see if this interests you.
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