Grounded Portal

Go inside the multifaceted mind of our pilot 


The Pink

Several shades of femininity and masculinity are embodied by The Pilot. Throughout the text, there is commentary on traditional femininity. For example, The Pilot hopes that her daughter won’t be a “hair tosser." However, The Pilot’s gender is central to her experience and her processing of it. Her role of wife and mother contradicts her tough “one of the guys” identity. The soft nature of motherhood directly conflicts with the rigidity of being a solider. The Pilot is transformed by the friction and dissonance created as these roles pump up against each other.


1903 The Wright Brothers' powered flight

1910 First woman to receive pilot license

1911 First U.S. woman to receive pilot license

1927 First woman to obtain aircraft mechanics license                         

1932 First woman to cross Atlantic Ocean solo

1934 First woman pilot hired for U.S. commercial airline                         

1942 First women hired as air traffic control specialists                       

1942 First U.S. women pilots to fly military aircraft                         

1943 First U.S. women navigators for the military

1953 First woman to break sound barrier

1963 First woman in space

1964 First woman to successfully fly around the world                         

1973 First woman hired as ATP for modern, jet-equipped scheduled airline

1980 First woman to win the World Aerobatics Championship                 

1984 First woman walks in space

1993 U.S. Department of Defense opens combat aviation to women

1999 First woman space shuttle commander



She was the first woman to become a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Today, she is the commander of the Fourth Fighter Wing out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.

MARTIN: So what was that first ride like in an F-16?

LEAVITT: Oh, it was absolutely amazing. I was very fortunate. I flew with some highly experienced instructor pilots who took time to sit down and explain everything to me. So, before we went out to the airplane, while we were flying and when we would come back and debrief, they took the time to explain it all to me. And it made it just absolutely fascinating.

Excerpts from WMA - Women Military Aviators



The experience of flying is often described as beautifully freeing, tantalizingly thrilling, and strangely addicting. The Pilot cannot give up The Blue. For many pilots, it seems the need to fly is in their blood and is an inescapable force that drives them forward. It is hard to imagine that feeling. The language that is used to describe flying by pilots and by writers below gives a clear sense of the magic of flight.


Sometimes, flying feels too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see … 

Charles A. Lindbergh,  The Spirit of St. Louis, 1953.

You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky. 

Amelia Earhart


It's wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God, and I have no fears.

Helen Keller, at age 74, on flight around the world, news reports

The airplane is just a bunch of sticks and wires and cloth, a tool for learning about the sky and about what kind of person I am when I fly. An airplane stands for freedom, for joy, for the power to understand and to demonstrate that understanding. Those things aren't destructible.

Richard Bach, Nothing by Chance, 1963.


There are many soldiers like The Pilot who are forced to get used to this new type of drone warfare. The seemingly more distant approach to war actually forces soldiers to experience the repercussions of their actions in a much more intimate way.

Brandon Bryant

Brandon Bryant is a former drone pilot who is outspoken in his belief that drone strikes are dangerous for the operator. He works with Democracy Now as an anti-drone activist.

Bryant describes his first drone strike, “So we’re looking at this thing, these people, and it was like almost instantaneous that someone was like, 'Confirmed weapons. Here’s the nine line. You’re cleared. You’re cleared hot.' And we fire the missile. And the safety observer is counting down. He counts down to zero, and he says, 'Splash!'"