This post was written by Dr. Bethany Miller.
Shane Losee is a professional pilot, manufacturer, and entrepreneur. He’s a father and grandfather to bold girls, and he’s a mentor to many women in the aviation industry. Shane is the president and owner of My Bottle Boss, a unique bottle opener that’s ergonomically manufactured to make opening tough containers easier for everyone. He specifically sought input from women, flight attendants, bar staff, and others who have special concerns (like frequency of repetitive motion and smaller hands and torque strength) about opening bottles so that he could make a universal tool for everyone.
More than that, Shane is an advocate for aviation and women in STEAM fields. When he found out what we were doing at Abingdon Foundation right after our inception, he immediately asked for more information. We began a long conversation about what it means to support people on their career journey, and that conversation continues nearly a year later. Shane has supported us from the start, and there’s good reason why.
As a lifelong aviator, Shane knows what it means to face challenges in building a successful career. It takes perseverance and a great connection with the community. And he’s dedicated to giving back.
Several years ago, Shane was the Director of Operations at an airline. He often talked to Flight Attendants and other airline personnel who were pursuing their pilot’s licenses or thinking about starting to fly. “Well yeah,” he says, “it’s got to be a good work environment. But not just flight attendants- pilots also, and rampers especially. Rampers are the ground personnel at the airport. They’re mostly men. You rarely see women rampers, and it’s a good job- can lead to a lot of things.”
He would share advice or connections and generally encourage women and men to follow their passions. Then one day he met Beth. Beth was a Ramper- someone who worked on the ramp at the airport. Beth wanted to become a pilot, and she was especially enthusiastic about it. They formed a close mentoring relationship and with Shane’s advice and encouragement, Beth spent many years successfully achieving her goals. Today she’s an airline pilot on the CRJ200 and she and Shane still speak frequently.
“I’ve been a pilot for a lot of years, in general aviation and commercial aviation, and you can’t ignore the people you work with. There’s some really good people out there trying to do a lot of things. And you’ve got to help them. We’re in this together,” Shane says when asked about his motivation for mentorship. That’s why Shane got involved with Abingdon Foundation. He said “You have a great mission and I admire what you’re doing. A lot goes into creating an organization like yours and you have a good thing going. I’m happy to be involved.”
Under Shane’s tenure, his airline had around 9% female pilots- about double the national average. He explained this anomaly. “I think it’s because we were a good place to work. We were out west, had a big west coast presence, we had a big presence at WAI (the annual Women in Aviation, International conference) every year, we had a big amount of flying, and we had non-judgmental hiring practices. That’s very important. We only hired on qualifications. And word got around. The circles get talking. And they find us. Also, we had a lot of women recruiters. There were a lot of women in management and women check airmen. The women were leaders. That matters.”
Shane has other strong feelings about how to strengthen the bonds of community and support of women in nontraditional fields. When asked if he’s ever been to the WAI conference, he laughs. “Yeah, a lot of times. It’s a wonderful conference. Really active. So is OBAP (Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals). And the NGPA (National Gay Pilots Association) events. And EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). You’ve GOT to go to these things.” He explains that it’s our responsibility to be active in your community, volunteer, and advocate. You are not the minority; everyone is equal. Anyone can fly an airplane. But in order to do it well you have to support the community. The WHOLE community.
Shane’s daughter has yellow belt in karate. A while ago, she was insecure about taunting from the neighborhood troublemaker. She wanted to feel more self assured. Shane knew that taking karate boosted his confidence as a kid, so he supported her in doing that. And slowly she became empowered. She continues to work on her levels because she likes it. There are boys and girls alike in her class. Her instructor is female, so she takes to her. His daughter has grown into a young woman who enjoys an adventurous sport, fully supported by her community.
“My interest in [supporting women] is in my daughters and my granddaughter.” Shane passes on advice from his father: get qualified and certificated or licensed to do something others can’t and you’ll always have that to fall back on. That’s good for everyone. It applies to all technical fields, all licenses and all ratings. They will provide passion and fulfillment and opportunities. It’s equal opportunity. “When I see others pursuing certifications, I want to help them out,” he says.
Shane admires people who break the mold. His advice? Break barriers. Do what others can’t. Take small bites. Always work towards your goal by stepping forward every time.
Shane has made a limited edition Abingdon Foundation My Bottle Boss where a portion of the proceeds will go towards the foundation. Click here to learn about it and purchase your very own!