Charlotte Rayburn

Hear Me Roar

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Photography by Eric Rayburn Photography 

What inspired you to start flying?  
My father was a pilot in the Air Force and for Eastern Airlines. Growing up, our “road trips” were in airplanes not station wagons and I was smitten with the whole experience. After graduating from the University of Georgia, I was working in Charleston, SC and my father, who lives here in Hilton Head, had a small airplane. I thought it would be a lot of fun to learn how to fly so we could fly together. I never realized I could actually be an airline pilot, too, until I took my first lesson. Once I made my first landing I never looked back.

What are your Top 5 travel destinations?
(1) Paris, France—Its my favorite city to wander, always finding a new street to explore or restaurant to enjoy. (2) London, England—I have dear friends from college in London, and it’s always a treat to spend quality time with great people on a layover. (3) Buenos Aires, Argentina—Ohhh, the empanadas! And, shopping in San Telmo on a Sunday. (4) New York City, New York—Even though it’s my home base for work, I still love the energy that just pulses through New York City. (5) Anywhere I haven’t been before, because life is about adventures.

What’s your favorite thing about working for Delta Air Lines, one of the largest global airlines?
The thing I love most about working for Delta is that despite the size of the airline, it really is like a big family. Delta people care about one another and go out of their way to help out a fellow employee.
Tell us about your most unique experience in a different country? I was visiting Palau with my husband. There is a lagoon there full of golden jellyfish that have lost the ability to sting over time since they have no natural predator in the lagoon. Snorkeling with thousands of jellyfish bouncing off your face was a pretty special (and exciting) experience.

How does it feel to be a female in a (mostly) male dominant industry?
Honestly, it’s pretty great. I love watching people’s faces as they get off an airplane and realize their Captain was a woman. And there is nothing better than seeing a little girl’s eyes get big when they see me and point me out to their parents as the “girl pilot.”

What advice would you give people who are afraid of flying?
I find for most people who are afraid of flying it boils down to a feeling of being out of control. I feel like taking a flying lesson would go a long way toward helping people who are afraid to get a better understanding of flying and the basics of what is going on while they are passengers.

What three things do you always have in the cockpit with you?
Outside of all the normal tools for flying... First, non-polarized sunglasses are a must. Second to that, I always put on sunscreen, the sun can be brutal depending on which way you are flying and we only get one skin. Third is water. I always try to have lots of water at hand. Eight plus hours in the plane will leave you very dehydrated.

My biggest pet peeve is...
people who have no manners. You can stand up for yourself and still be polite to people.

When you are not in the sky, what fills your downtime?
Well, I do live on Hilton Head Island, so of course, tennis and golf. I also have two bulldogs that keep me pretty busy. I love to cook. And my husband always jokes that I should have been a travel agent because I am always plotting our next trip.

I admire people who...
go after what they want and don’t take no for an answer.

My new years resolutions are...
going to see something new on each layover.

You can hear me roar about:
This year of the woman. I’m loving watching women around this country find their voice and demanding to be heard. It’s pretty amazing!.