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Mary Shipko’s life in the skies began at an early age

Mary Shipko

Flying was a part of Mary Shipko’s life from the time she was born. “My first flight was as an infant sitting on my dad’s lap,” she said.

The Gloucester Point resident and former airline pilot grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where her father, Charlie Bush, owned a general aviation business and taught people to fly, making regular flights to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. He taught all seven of his children the basics of flying, letting them take turns piloting. Shipko herself started flying in high school.

“It’s one of those things that’s easy to love,” she said. “It’s exciting. You use all your senses, and when it works out good, it builds your self-confidence. The constant learning is fun.”

Shipko started out in a Piper Cherokee, a single-engine trainer, and moved on to a Cessna Aerobat.“In South Florida back then, you’d do a little bush flying, like in Alaska where you visit small villages with not many navigation aids,” she said.

While she and her s...

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