In Depth
Flying|April 2020

While studying meteorology at the University of Hawaii in the 1970s, Cyndhi Berwyn began flying gliders. In her senior year, the US Air Force decided to allow women to become pilots in the service. After she competed for a slot and was selected as one of the first women in that program, she became an Air Force instructor, flying T-37s and T-38s. Her career made a roaring start.

During her Air Force years, Berwyn continued to build general aviation experience by flying hot air balloons, seaplanes and helicopters, before joining the Air Force Reserve flying KC-10s once her active duty was over. At about the same time, she was hired as a pilot for FedEx, where she has been employed for the past 34 years. Through her career at FedEx, she’s been a flight engineer, first officer and/or captain on the Boeing 727, Douglas DC-10, Airbus A300, McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and Boeing 777, respectively.

Berwyn’s career has always been pegged at VY, and with a logbook now stuffed with more than 15,500 hours, you’d think she might contemplate slowing down—but that’s not how she’s wired. Instead, she spends her off-duty time as a captain on the Orbis International Flying Eye Hospital, a one-of-a-kind McDonnell Douglas MD-10-30 that travels around the globe bringing needed medical training to doctors so they can learn new ways to treat avoidable blindness or vision impairment in underserved countries. Destinations on her Orbis FEH flights have included Panama, the United Arab Emirates, India, Singapore, Ethiopia, Chile, Peru and Jamaica, as well as numerous static-display trips inside the US. This spring, she will be bringing the FEH to the Sun ’n Fun airshow in Lakeland, Florida.

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