Pilot Kitty Banner Seemann discusses flying in Alaskan bush, Colorado at The Bookworm of Edwards | VailDaily.com

Pilot Kitty Banner Seemann discusses flying in Alaskan bush, Colorado at The Bookworm of Edwards

When Kitty Banner Seemann was flying in Alaska, she was the only woman pilot. She would fly mountain climbers, hunters, exploreres, sightseers and other adventurers into the Alaskan bush, often times bringing back a larger haul due to her smaller stature compared to her male counterparts. Banner Seemann will be at The Bookworm of Edwards on Friday, June 8.
Photos Special to the Daily

If you go ...

What: Pilot Kitty Banner Seemann signing and discussing her book, “Wings of Her Dreams.”

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards.

When: Friday, June 8, 6 p.m.

Cost: $10.

More information: Visit http://www.bookwormofedwards.com.

Her name might imply a life on the sea, but for Kitty Banner Seemann, it’s been a life full of high-flying fun.

“It’s been an incredible adventure, that’s for sure,” she said over the phone from Mexico, preparing for her visit to The Bookworm of Edwards on Friday, June 8.

Banner Seemann was one of the first female pilots to co-found and co-own an Alaskan Air Taxi Service, flying adventurers, photographers, sightseers, climbers, hunters and fisherman into the Alaskan bush near Talkeetna.

At The Bookworm, Banner Seemann will be discussing her new book, “Wings of Her Dreams,” along with stories from her life of flying. Her book is a reflection of the adventure’s during her time in Alaska, including her flights, landings, takeoffs on high altitude glaciers loaded with gear and climbers from all over the world who traveled to Talkeetna to ascent one of the toughest mountains on earth, Denali.

Flying in Colorado

During her career, Banner Seemann has kept a diary of sorts, chronicling her days with highlights and pictures, which are included in her book.

“I have years of that,” she said.

While the book focuses on her time in Alaska, Banner Seemann has also spent time flying in Wisconsin and Colorado, among other places.

She flew out of Boulder and got her pilot’s license there, flying gliders around the Flatirons. She would also fly around the Denver area.

“There’s all of those roads you can land on. Nobody’s around and there’s not many telephone poles, so that’s good,” she said.

Banner Seemann also flew threw the Rocky Mountains often, both out of Eagle and Aspen. She would fly photographers for Vail Associates (now Vail Resorts) around Beaver Creek when it was still growing, getting aerial shots of the mountain — weather permitting.

“Colorado was incredible,” she said. “You learn how to cross the mountains at a 45-degree knife edge, and it’s really important because of the down draft.”

Banner Seemann still flies today. Her American Champion Scout utility aircraft is in a hangar in Wisconsin — ready to take off or land from any runway or body of water.

‘Being a Woman in Alaska’

When Banner Seemann was in Alaska, there weren’t any other women flying at the time, although there had been one before.

“So when I came, it was all the old guys,” she said. “And there’s nothing better than being taught by all the old timers. I feel very fortunate for that.”

The benefit she had as a smaller, female pilot allowed her to go out on excursions with heavier equipment, or haul back a larger load.

“That was the advantage of being a woman in Alaska,” she said.

She would be out there cleaning the plane, loading it up and then getting the passengers on board before sitting down in the pilot’s seat.

“They’d look at me like, ‘Where’s the pilot?’” she said.

But after she flew them out and back safely with a larger haul of moose meat than a male pilot wouldn’t be able to bring back, they learned quickly about who the pilot was.

With happy customers came celebrations at the local bar after an excursion.

“But being a pilot and having to get up early in the morning, I had a routine,” she said. “Instead of a beer or drink, I would just get a shot of whiskey, toast and then throw it right over my shoulder. So there’s a whole wall shellacked with liquor because I would throw it over my shoulder.”

‘A Flying Family’

Banner Seemann still visits Alaska, and she has noticed a change over the past 40 years.

“When you’re flying around the Alaska Range and Denali, it’s still so awesome and so beautiful and so spectacular,” she said, “but when you’re on the ground and even flying from my perspective, you can see where the glaciers have retreated. But it’s still incredible to fly around Alaska.”

Flying around Alaska helped instill a passion in Banner Seemann that she’s passed on to her two sons, as well as her husband.

“We’re a flying family,” she said. “The four of us all fly and we have a really wonderful time,” she said. “It’s a great learning experience for the family with a lot of aviation sharing and a lot of love.

“We’re all for the pursuit of the ultimate in single-engine aviation, and that really is mountain flying.”

Entertainment & Outdoors editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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