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October 2005 edition

Mooney takes off with news of a second shift

By Claire Morrison

Gretchen Jahn loves to fly. Whether she is open to the elements in a navy biplane, or performing aerobatics in a Czech-built L39.

It is perhaps no coincidence then that she took the helm as chief executive of US aircraft manufacturer Mooney Airplane Company.

She joined Mooney in October 2004 after a turbulent time hauling itself out of bankruptcy.

A combination of self-belief, Jahn’s manufacturing experience and some lucky breaks, seems to have pulled the company through worst of it. But there is still plenty to be done. And as one of the few female executives within the manufacturing sector, Jahn could be the woman to do it.

Jahn has had her pilot licence for over 20 years. She first encountered the delights of aviation when she met her husband. He already had a pilot licence and Jahn flew with him for years, learning to navigate and accompanying him on trips across America. Then when he was away for three weeks on a trip without her, Jahn missed the thrill of flying and by the time he returned, she had found a flying instructor and had already had a couple of flying lessons. “From then on I was hooked,” she recalls.

Jahn’s husband also introduced her to the ‘99s’ - the international organisation of women pilots. After assisting in a number of racing events, she decided to compete and hasn’t looked back.

Earlier this year, Jahn took part in the ‘Air Race Classic’ an all women's air race lasting four days and spanning 2200 miles. She and her octogenarian co-pilot Ru....

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