Former Minneapolis flight attendant training to become pilot

A day after federal aviation officials make an important rule change for flight attendants, a former flight attendant is sharing her story of why she exited the field and how she's landed in a different aviation career.

For the last seven years, Jennifer Koecher has spent her life up in the skies, first as a flight attendant and now as a flight instructor, helping aspiring pilots achieve their lifelong dream.

"I really like the perspective it brings," Koecher said. "When we're down on the ground, problems seems so big. Up in the air, you see a whole different view."

As she reflects on her three and a half years as a flight attendant, she remembers both the good and the bad.

"I was seeing new cities, traveling to different places. But it was a grind. It was exhausting," she said.

That exhaustion is one of the main reasons she chose to depart in 2018. So she's glad to see the Federal Aviation Administration now making rest a priority for flight attendants. Federal aviation officials this week increased the rest period between flight attendants’ shifts.

"They are trained to evacuate the aircraft. They're trained to be the first responders for any emergency under the sun< and if they don't have adequate rest, that's not going to happen," Koecher said.

Her time in the cabin crew also gave her unique insight into the life of a pilot.

"They were getting paid a lot better to live a similar lifestyle and not deal with a lot of the downsides of the job," she said.

With that realization, a new career began to take flight. She's now mere months away from becoming a pilot for a regional airline.

"When I decided to do this, it was 6 percent women were in aviation across the board," Koecher said.

But there were women who came before her and showed her this pipeline was an option.

"I think I can name nine flight attendants who are either airline pilots now, flight instructors like myself or coming through the ranks," she said.

As a member of the local non-profit Stars of the North, which seeks to bring more women into aviation fields, she hopes her story will bring more women into the skies.

"If I find a way to do it, you can do it," she said.