Elizabeth City, N.C. – Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) proudly celebrates Madelyn Knowles, certified flight instructor, who has become a beacon of inspiration for aspiring pilots. 

Her journey into aviation began with her dad, a captain at American Airlines.  

 “I never considered flying for myself. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I decided to give aviation a try,” Knowles said. 

When choosing a college, Knowles knew that ECSU was for her. Prior to entering the program in August 2021, she had no prior aviation knowledge. 

It was mostly all new to me,” she said. “From the get-go, I could tell I made the right choice of coming here because of the family-like environment that is instilled in this program.”  

Kevin Kupietz, chair and assistant professor for ECSU’s emergency management department, is elated to welcome his former student as his colleague. 

“Maddie has been a valuable member of our team,” he said. “She has promoted the role of women in aviation through her studies, holding offices – including the president of the Women in Aviation organization – serving as a tutor and later as a proctor for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) exam, as well as being the lead on several projects within the Department of Aviation and Emergency Management at ECSU.”  

As the former vice president and president of the Northeastern North Carolina Women in Aviation chapter, advocacy is of huge importance to Knowles when looking to pursue her career in the Aviation industry.  

“I have tried my best to create a welcoming environment for everyone beginning their journey in aviation,” said Knowles. 

Much of that is due to her own Viking Voyage experience. 

 “Overall, I would say my experience at ECSU has been great! I have acquired life-long friends and family, as well as connections and networking opportunities that will help me get a jump-start in my career.” 

As ECSU continues to expand its aviation program, Knowles’ dedication to her mission of educating and empowering the next generation of pilots remains at the forefront. Her story exhibits that anyone can fly to new heights.