One of my favorite airports in the world is Dillingham Field (HDH) on the North Shore of Oahu. One of my favorite persons at Dillingham is Yuko Matsumoto. She is a very unlikely person in an unlikely place.
As I considered where to receive Glider flight training, my options were many because Dillingham is a very busy airport with lots of glider operators. However, most of the operators at Dillingham cater to the busy business of taking tourists up for glider rides around the North Shore. Yuko’s business, Hana Hou Air (www.hanahouair.com), also gives a few rides, but hers is devoted to glider training. She has a very simple office area in her hangar, but most of the time can be found on the flight line flying, teaching, or administering checkrides. I like her for a number of reasons.
Have you ever met a Japanese female Designated Pilot Examiner for gliders? If not, have you ever met a Japanese female glider pilot? How about a Japanese female pilot of any type? In a field dominated by white males, Yuko, as an extreme minority, has figured out how to crack the code and now owns a business fueled by her passions in a virtual paradise. She is certainly no “feminist” with an agenda to make inroads for women, but quietly and certainly is doing exactly that. Yuko is proof positive that in America, success can be reached by anyone who is passionate, deliberate, and willing to exert some sweat-equity. Moving up the ranks from pilot to instructor to FAA Designated Pilot Examiner, Yuko is a rare gem.
I liked Yuko right from the start. Whereas some people go into business to simply make money, Yuko is doing what she loves and allowing the money to follow. Easily the most nit-picky examiner I’ve ever met, Yuko will dime you out for the smallest infraction. If I forget to put a pilot cover on the glider after a flight, leave the canopy open for more than 3 seconds without my being within 3 feet proximity, or if the yaw string is off just slightly, Yuko is bound to say something . The FAA knew exactly what they were doing in making her a DPE, she is undoubtedly perfect for the job. All this is said as an extreme compliment…and any good pilot will recognize it as such instantly. She runs a very tight business and her detail-oriented approach is part of her success.
If you want to just get a glider rating, then go anywhere…if you want to learn from someone with passion, call Yuko. Look around Dillingham for a Japanese lady riding a rusty bike and wearing a wide brimmed hat. Then, sit down for some hangar talk…you’ll be glad you did.