How does someone afraid of taking an elevator end up strapped upside down in a tiny plane thousands of feet above the ground? For UW Professor Cecilia Aragon, that transformation began when she said yes to a friend who took her flying — and led to her becoming the first Latina pilot on the U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Team, “the Olympics of aviation.”
This short film explores her life-changing journey from being a novice pilot with an intense fear of heights to becoming an aerobatics champion flying complicated loops, rolls and spins. Emboldened by her success in the sky, Aragon completed her doctorate and embarked on a teaching career, eventually becoming the first Latina full professor in the UW College of Engineering.
Aragon, a faculty member in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, chronicled her experiences in her 2020 memoir, “Flying Free.”
Originally published May 2022