A 10-year-old girl got to fly a plane for the first time last week, thanks to UPS’s Wishes Delivered campaign, and she’s certain that this was her first flight of many.
Taylor Peeff is going to be a UPS pilot: She knows this, and you should, too.
Dave Smith, a UPS pilot trainer, taught her how to fly, and her mother, Cindi Peeff, sat in the back.
Dressed in her custom-made UPS pilot’s uniform, Taylor raved about how much she loved her experience. “I loved it, I loved every part of it it was fantastic!” she said.
Wishes Delivered fulfills the dreams of children in various ways. In the past, a young boy who had a special relationship with a driver, was given a custom-made UPS package truck to drive around his neighborhood. The team once delivered snow to children in Texas who had never experienced snow before.
This year, the company decided to inspire young girls in aviation, said Gloria Hatcher, a UPS pilot. “We know that about 5 percent of pilots today are females,” she said. Hatcher spent the day with Taylor, and talked to her about the life of a pilot, letting her know what it’s really like.
Taylor marshalled in an airplane and visited the crew in the cockpit. She got to land an Airbus A300 simulator, too. Hatcher said she did a great job landing in the simulator. “She’s very talented; she’s a natural.”
Cindi Peeff said that Taylor has had in interest in flying since she was very young. Her father is an airplane mechanic. When he was in school, he took her in a couple of times and let her visit the planes on which they were working.
“When she was about 5, we took her to the Mall of America, and she got to fly in a plane, and she just knew that’s what she wanted to do with her life,” Peeff said. “She was just amazed by it.”
She had taken Taylor to a Girls in Aviation day at Bowman Field, and the UPS crew was there, filming and scouting for a candidate, and they chose Taylor.
Peeff said the experience with UPS has been amazing: “It has been the best day of both of our lives,” she said.
Smith said the flight was great. Based in Alaska, he made a special trip to Louisville to be a part of this event.
“Taylor is a wonderful pilot,” he said. “It’s a wonderful day to go flying, very smooth, very nice. … Great visibility. We flew toward Cincinnati, she flew over the new bridge, saw some marinas, just navigated herself right along the Indiana and Kentucky border.”
Smith, who is also a civilian flight instructor, said the only people he’s taught that young have been his own children. Most people start learning to fly around 16 or 17.
“She was just so excited; so appreciative. It was very touching,” he said. “She really took it in and absorbed it all, and it was just a special flight.”
Taylor was surprised that she would get to take the reins of the small plane.
“I thought I was just going to be a passenger,” she said. “He let me fly the airplane for nine whole minutes. And then he took over for a little bit, and then he gave it back to me. I landed the plane by myself. I steered most of the time, so that was pretty cool. Today is one of a kind.”
Asked if flying was more difficult than expected, she said no, it was actually easier.
“I’m going to be in the Navy, and once I get my license I am going to work for UPS as a pilot,” she said. “They made my dad’s dreams come true. They paid for his college, and without them, we would be in debt right now, and thanks to him, I’m here right now.”
Taylor said the fact that there are so few women pilots doesn’t discourage her at all.
“No, I think it’s more important for the whole entire world so people can follow their dreams and be who they are,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people say that you can’t do something — it just means that you can do it. You can be better than what they say.”
Smith presented Taylor with a certificate for her accomplishment and a pilot teddy bear. Then he presented her with her first log book, with his signature on her first flight lesson. The log book is real, and the time she spent in the air counts toward her future flight instruction.
Smith discussed important moments for a pilot with Taylor.
“I want to tell you, there are three flights that are very special to a pilot,” he told Taylor. “Your first flight; the second one is your first solo; and the third one is your final flight when you retire. So, you’re 10, I’m 47. When I retire, you’ll be 28. So, your goal is to fly my last flight with me.”
Taylor, and everyone watching, began to cry. “Thank you,” she said.
Later, when her mother asked why she was crying, she said, “I’m happy.” Then she told her mom that her little brother cannot touch her Teddy bear.