Beth Ann Senk
Manager, FAA Flight Program Operations Aviation Safety Training Group
By Paul Cianciolo, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine Associate Editor
Having an Air Force pilot as a dad is a surefire way to fall in love with aviation. At 16, after settling in Denver, Beth Ann dove into summer flying lessons after exploring flight schools throughout the area with her father. She answered phones and cleaned airplanes and hangars in exchange for flight time in a Pitts S-2B aerobatic biplane.
Beth Ann couldn’t keep her feet on the ground or her flying just “straight and level.” At 19, she landed a flight instructor job teaching aerobatics and formation flying for an aerial combat company in Englewood, Colo. Her passion for teaching continued as she transitioned to the assistant chief pilot at a large part 141 flight school in Phoenix and then to teaching at Lufthansa’s training academy.
The spark that brought Beth Ann to the FAA started with her husband, who was flying for an airline, and who one day had an aviation safety inspector (ASI) in his jumpseat. Her husband’s experience led Beth Ann to phone an ASI friend she had flown with in the past.
“My old colleague, an inspector at the Milwaukee [Flight Standards District Office], convinced me to apply for an ASI job,” Beth Ann said. “She helped me through the process and the transition into my career at the FAA. The Milwaukee FSDO was a wonderful office to start my new career.”
Beth Ann’s FAA experience spans ASI field work, a part 142 Certificate Management Office (CMO), international and policy work, and flight check operations. Now, she is the Aviation Safety Training Group manager under FAA’s Flight Program Operations at Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW) in Texas. The group provides training and currency flying for all ASIs at the FAA.
“From day one of becoming a civil servant, my motto has been to do for one what you wish you could do for all,” noted Beth Ann. “As an ASI, this is how I approach work, and as a manager, this is how I approach my employees and peers in FAA’s Air Traffic Organization and Flight Standards.”
The aviation community is strong, but there is even greater strength in being with a group of peers. Finding a good flying mentor helps us all fly a little safer. Beth Ann’s advice for being a good mentor is to never give up on people — they will surprise you.
“There were times when my mentors could have given up on me. However, they were patient and gave me a safe space to grow and figure out how to show up for my peers and excel in leadership,” she said. “We live in a wonderful time in aviation, with many changes and opportunities on the horizon. Find a mentor to find your flightpath.”
Paul Cianciolo is an associate editor and the social media lead for FAA Safety Briefing. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran and an auxiliary airman with Civil Air Patrol.