Jeanette Woods wings it over Sonoma
JEANETTE WOODS and two Young Eagles after a flight at Skypark Airport.
Darrel Jones/Special to the Index-Tribune
Sonoma Skypark Airport’s Jeanette Woods is an avid aviation enthusiast, a pilot extraordinaire and a woman who loves to get and give hugs.
One of five children, three of whom have become pilots, Woods started flying small planes 17 years ago after retiring from teaching college-level math and computer science.
“I always wanted to fly. My youngest brother was a CFII flight instructor and now flies Lear jets and my eldest brother also flew, although our parents didn’t,” she said.
An American citizen born in Manila, Philippines, Jeanette and her family came to the states just before V-J Day in 1945 on the troop ship Gen. John Pope. “I was a youngster and I remember there were so many soldiers on board the ship,” said Woods.
She became a math teacher, a profession she held for 32 years, teaching at San Francisco State University, College of Marin and Indian Valley College in Novato.
She met her eventual husband, Harold (Hal) in 1964 when he was a San Francisco attorney but they didn’t marry until 1980. It was the second marriage for both.
Jeanette and Hal both loved traveling spending time in their motor home visiting the East Coast and the South while putting 17,000 miles on the odometer.
But being off the ground, soaring in her 180 horse-powered Cessna 172M Skyhawk is now one of Jeanette’s greatest passions. And it all began one day, after retiring from teaching, when she told Hal, “I’d really like to learn how to fly.” Hal was very supportive of the idea and said, “Great, let’s go find an airport!”
The couple discovered the general-aviation airport on Eighth Street East and Jeanette decided to check it out. What she found was a genuine camaraderie among the pilots that fit with her personality, and she was hooked.
“I knew nothing about flying, I started at square one. I met the flight instructor, got an airman medical exam and we got started,” she laughingly said.
After about a year and a half, that included some interruptions, she acquired her pilot’s license.
Now, with 1,000 hours of flight time, Jeanette has more than 200 hours of flying Young Eagles out of Skypark. The Young Eagles program gives monthly free flights to youngsters between the ages of 8 and 17, and offers membership and chapter meetings for the kids if they’re interested in learning about airplanes and becoming pilots.
All the Skypark pilots flying Young Eagles donate their time, flight hours, airplanes and fuel to provide the aviation experience. Jeanette said she loves flying Young Eagles. “I enjoy seeing the young people enjoying it.”
Jeanette keeps herself in shape by going to the gym three times a week. She also volunteers her time on the business end of the airpark. She served on the Sonoma Skypark Airport board of directors for nine years and is presently on the board of the local chapter of EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association).
As Jeanette looks to the future she said with her characteristic optimism, “I intend to fly Young Eagles until I can’t fly anymore. And I will know when that is.”
On Oct. 13, Skypark Airport holds its annual Family Fun Day with Jeanette in charge of organizing the event. Free to the public, it’s a day filled with vintage and antique airplane and hot rod displays, a silent auction, raffle, barbecue, hayrides and music and other entertainment. Also, the Valley of the Moon Amateur Radio Club will set up radio transmission stations.
The event benefits the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance and Skypark’s Air Explorer Post #1268 for young people interested in aviation. For more information or to donate auction items or raffle prizes, call 938-5587 or email email@example.com.