Soaring Past Stereotypes

Amelia Earhart is known for being one of the first women pilots in the world. Here in Naperville, one local pioneer pilot helped shatter the glass ceiling in aviation.

“We women like to say we are better pilots then men, but we don’t tell the men that,” said Bev Patterson Frier.

Frier is the only woman pilot at Clow International Airport in Bolingbrook, Illinois. She has been flying for 41 years, and from day one, she was one of the only woman pilots in the air.

“On the door it said George’s Flight School and I walked in,” said Frier. “There were all men and all conversations stopped dead.”

Being one of the only female pilots in the area, Frier sought out advice from other local aviators.

“Harold White, the owner of the Naperville Sun, is who really got me into flying,” said Frier. “His wife Eva was a pilot. She was so dainty and I always thought women pilots were macho. Eva was my inspiration. She was the one who encouraged me to keep flying.”

That inspiration has helped Frier fly more than a million miles and spend countless hours behind the yoke of her plane.

“I love flying. I hate driving,” said Frier. “Driving is so boring but flying makes you think and it gets the cobwebs out of the head.”

Frier is most proud of being a top instrument rated pilot.

“On instruments you are on radar and you don’t need to look out,” said Frier. “You fly by the needles above the clouds.”

Becoming an IRP takes time, and studying for the exam is how Frier and her husband Bill fell in love.

“It’s been a big part of our marriage to study and learn,” said Frier. “When you are studying you need a buddy. It’s been a whole new dimension to fly and learn together.”

Every winter Bev and Bill fly to Florida together, but the Frier’s don’t know when they will close their hangar for the last time.

“Every pilot knows when it’s time to quit flying,” said Frier. “I think it’s the closest to God I’ll ever get and I love it.”

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