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A local pilot retires after flying out of Palm Springs International Airport more than 30 years

A local pilot is celebrating her retirement this week after flying more than 40 years, 30 of them, in Palm Springs.

KESQ/CBS Local 2’s Lauren Coronado spoke with Captain Mary Conti, who shared her aviation love story with us tonight. Conti’s passion for flying started back in the 1970’s.

“You get a view that other people don’t ever get to see and there’s the skills involved and it’s an experience. It’s hard to give up,” Conti said.

She got her pilot’s license when she was 24-years-old. Shortly after, she bought her own plane. About 5 years later, she got her commercial license and started applying for positions.

“There were corporate jobs and you new you were being turned down because you were a female. They could actually tell you that back then,” Conti said.

Conti landed an interview with Sky West. Conti got the job, packed her bags to Palm Springs and fell in love again.

“The first person I met, that worked for Sky West, when I came down here, two years later, I married. And we’ve been married ever since…30 years in January,” Conti said.

And 32 years flying in and out of Palm Springs International Airport.

“It’s been a great place to work out of. It’s become a smaller base and it’s like we’re a big family. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Conti.

The FAA requires certain pilots to retire at 65 years old…Conti celebrated her birthday and retirement Thursday with an all-female crew, flying to San Francisco. Her co-workers were waiting for her on the tarmac when she arrived.

“I was really happy to see people cared enough waiting for me to come in at 1:30 in the morning. It’s hard to give up. It’s been great”.

KESQ News Team

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