Tanya Austin has worked in the aviation industry as a first responder, brand ambassador, and customer service representative to travelers worldwide, representing regional and global carriers such as Delta Airlines and United Express. Tanya has worked in charter, private, and commercial aviation. Tanya is a pilot and aviation business owner invested in attaining a commercial pilot certification.
She has been passionate about her work with non-profit groups such as Tuskegee Airmen Inc and Black Pilots of America, where she has held a board member role and is the treasurer and recruiter. She volunteers with groups like Sisters of the Skies and is currently the Operations Manager at the RedTail Flight Academy, based at Stewart International Airport. Tanya is an active member of Women in Aviation International, the Organization for Black Aerospace Professionals, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. She contributes her spare time supporting those who need help in these and other organizations. Tanya has over 25 years of sales, service, and management experience and has worked for both government and private sectors.
1 When did your interest in aviation begin, and what is your current role in the industry?
My interest started in aviation when I discovered I could travel the world as a profession. Growing up, I couldn’t afford to travel due to our economic situation. I started traveling when I was 18 and knew I wanted to travel more. I would travel so often that one day an airport employee told me I should consider being the crew. I had no idea what that meant. Once I discovered who the various crew members were, I applied to become a flight attendant.
2 What are your specialties in aviation, and what are a few of your future career aspirations in the industry?
I am the Operations Manager for the RedTail Flight Academy. I am a DOT Certificated Aviation Safety Manager and a private pilot with an instrument rating. I have completed various certifications related to safety and Flight Operations. In addition, I have extensive experience in commercial aviation as a flight attendant, where I’ve been certified to work in more than 20 configurations of Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and Bombardier Aircraft. My future aviation goals include learning as much as possible about aviation management on a larger scale, flying commercially in some capacity, continuing mentoring youth, and exposing as many people to aviation as possible. I plan to use my writing and podcasting to continue promoting aviation as a career choice for women and other underrepresented communities worldwide.
3 Tell us about your work with non-profit groups such as Tuskegee Airmen Inc. and the RedTail Flight Academy.
I have been volunteering with civil aviation non-profit groups since 2016, the various roles have changed, but the commitment is the same. Working with these groups has been as equally challenging as it has been rewarding. The work ranges from front-line volunteerism to working with boards to help with an organization’s more extensive needs. For example, my work with Tuskegee Airmen Inc. allows me to work directly with surviving airmen and their descendants to keep the legacy alive while helping diversify the aviation sector. Working with similar organizations enables me to learn and grow through volunteering. Like other aviation organizations, many of these groups overlap and have the same membership, providing a vast networking opportunity. Working with RFA allows me to work with literally all civil aviation groups, especially during scholarship offering periods, summer camps, and other initiatives.
4 What are your insights about diversity and training for the next generation of pilots in the New York area?
New York is not only a prime location city for aviation; it has a rich history in aviation history concerning minorities. With the looming shortage of qualified talent in the aviation field, New York must capitalize on its population’s diversity and use that diversity to reach groups that only see a small part of aviation. Once those groups get the chance to develop in the aviation industry, everyone will benefit. New Yorkers from every race and gender work hard and deserve opportunities to improve themselves and this great city. Training more minorities in aviation is a win-win for the state, its people, and the industry. The next generation of minorities in New York will help alleviate some disparities if they are continually exposed to the field and appropriately trained.
5 What advice would you give to young men and women who are interested in careers in the aviation industry?
I recommend going to a General Aviation airport and speaking with any professional you can immediately find. I recommend joining a civil aviation group, finding a mentor, and attending as many aviation events as possible. Reading and research are critical. When I didn’t know where to start, I found a group of aviation professionals and started calling and writing them. Take a discovery flight if you are interested in flying. Go on a field trip to an airport, and tour an air traffic control center. With the aviation high schools and one of the top aviation colleges in the nation located in New York, your access to these and other aviation-related careers is endless. Colleges and universities nationwide offer aviation-focused training programs; take the time to visit these schools. Lastly, remember that aviation has so many possibilities; explore all the options because aviation is an industry with every profession you can imagine.