Featured Alumni: Kim Strickland

Our Featured Alumni for this semester is Chicago author and United Airlines First Officer Kim Strickland. Kim is a 1985 Journalism graduate with minors in English and French in addition to her Institute of Aviation certificates and ratings.  She was a flight instructor at the Institute for two-and-a-half years and taught ground school for five semesters.

Photo is courtesy of Michael Overbeek of Overbeek Photography


In an email interview, Kim reflected on her time at the U of I and the Institute:  “I have so many fond memories of the Institute, mostly of the people I met there and most of whom are still my friends to this day! I remember the ‘spin test’: how quickly a person was able to go up and do spins after choking down one of the cafeteria’s greasy cheeseburgers; all of the practical jokes we played on each other as flight instructors, predicated on some found 8x10 glossies of a certain not-to-be-named astronaut; coaching the flying team to its first regional victory in years; cutting out early on WOXOF days and going down to Deluxe to shoot pool.  Way too many happy memories to mention!”

Kim’s career with United Airlines began in September of 1990 where she currently flies as F/O on Boeing 767’s.  She has also flown as F/O on Boeing 737-300’s and as Flight Engineer on 727’s.  Prior to joining United she worked for Midway Airlines (DC-9 F/O), Midway Connection (DO-228, Captain) and Masco Corporation (BE-200 F/O).

When Kim is not flying right seat on an airliner, she is a writer; a passion she has enjoyed since her childhood.  So, how does someone that grew up wanting to be a writer end up being an airline pilot?  She explains:  “I wanted to be a writer. That makes sense, right? You see, I wanted to be a writer before I wanted to be a pilot, but my parents convinced me if I became a novelist, I would end up starving to death. So instead, I decided to choose something that would terrify them even more than writing: flying jets.

“Actually, I’ve always loved being on airplanes. After my first flight at the age of nine, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep for days! I enjoy travelling and wanted a job that I would love to wake up to every morning. And after 31 years of flying, I still do, except for maybe those times when the alarm clock goes off at 1 am.”

When Kim is not jetting around the globe, she is a regular contributor to the blog site ChicagoNow.  She has also written two novels, Down at the Golden Coin and Wish Club.  To read Kim’s blog or read more about her books, visit her website, www.kimstrickland.com.