“In my life, one thing always leads to another without a lot of planning. I just let life flow.” That’s how 26-year veteran US Airways commercial pilot, Susan Maule, explains her highly creative life. Currently a First Officer on transatlantic Airbus 330 flights to Europe and the Middle East, she has flown over 100 different types of aircraft in her career. When she’s on the ground, however, she may be coaxing soft, melodic tones from one of her Native American flutes or skillfully wielding her tuning forks to bring harmony and balance to a client’senergetic body. For Ms. Maule, the relationship between these two seemingly diverse worlds—flying big jets and fostering healing through sound--is obvious.

Let’s start with flying. Since the 1960’s, her family has been building the legendary single engine Maule airplane (www.mauleairinc.com)originally designed by her grandfather. Maule Aircraft started in Michigan and later relocated to Moultrie, Georgia, (www.mauleflight.com) where it’s been growing ever since and is presently under the management of her father, her aunt and uncle. Her brother and cousin are also part of the company.

Ms. Maule grew up, surrounded by every aspect of the business from manufacturing to maintenance to flight instruction to delivering planes to customers herself. Her first flying lesson withher father came at age seven. Mesmerized by the beauty of the world above and below her and the thrilling experience of freedom in the vast open sky, she was hooked. On her 16th birthday, she soloed in twelve different airplanes and was a licensed pilot at the tender age of 17.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, of the nearly 600,000 active pilots in the United States, approximately six percentare women. Ms. Maule is among the slightly more than three percent who are ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) rated and from time to time, is invited to be a guest speaker. “People often ask me about the technical aspects of flying a plane, or if I’ve been discriminated against because I’m a woman, but I don’t really want to talk about that stuff. I’d rather share the experience of being up in the air, seeing things from a different perspective. That is important to me because changing a perception can do everything from conquering a fear for flying to creating a happier life.” It is this commitment that would bring together her passion for flying and the healing power of sound therapy modalities.

There is one question that Ms. Maule is frequently asked: was she in the air onSeptember 11th? “Yes,” she recallsquietly. “I was a 737 Captain pushing off the gate in Chicago at 8:42 AM, heading home to Baltimore. As we flew over Michigan, I pointed out to the first officer our airport where I learned to fly. My mind was full of beautiful memories of those incredible flying experiences. At that exact moment, we heard over the radio that an airplane had struck the World Trade Center. How ironic that I was thinking about thedreams and joys of flight in my childhood when we heard this news. It was as if the innocence of all those years was literally sucked right out of my body. Over Ohio, we heard the hijackers of United’s flight 93 on our radio frequency. On approach into Baltimore, we could see the Pentagon burning. Touching down at 10:11 AM, our flight had lasted the entire length of the event.” That was her last flight for three weeks. When she was next scheduledto fly, it was into New York City. The World Trade Center was still burning. Even though the world had dramatically changed, she was resolved to continue flying with the childhood awe and spirit that had always inspired her.

To becontinued: Watch this feature next week for the rest of our story about Ms. Maule. While she regularly flies big jets to Europe and the Middle East, shehas also accumulated almost 20 years of study and practice in bringing healingto others. Meanwhile, to get a sense ofthe impact that flying has had on her view of life, watch this video which combines her aerial photos with the music and lyrics of Susan Graham White,inspired by Ms. Maule’s flying experiences.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Lee Kaye grew up in Knoxville, TN where she attended the University of Tennessee, majoring in Interior Design. Upon graduation and before returning to her full-time job, she chose to travel to Denmark, Sweden and Finland with one her mentors in her senior year, Sister Remy Revor. At that time, Sister Remy was on sabbatical from Mount Mary College in Wisconsin and had come to UT to teach textile design in the interior design program. An internationally known textile design artist in her own right, she was also known for her exclusive, first class guided tours of artist’s studios, museums and specially selected sites for design interaction and education in Scandinavia. In the summer of 1974, fifteen others, most of them educators, and Linda Lee joined her on a comprehensive three-week trip of a lifetime. The trip was so spectacular and life changing that it marked a turning point in Linda Lee’s relationship to travel. Going forward, if an opportunity had the smell of a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, she would find a way to go.

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