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UWRF physics lecturer flies high

April 15, 2015

Many students see their professors as people who just lecture and hand out grades but Arriety Lowell is not only a professor who teaches physics at UW-River Falls, she also has a unique hobby: flying planes.

Lowell has a private pilots license and has been flying planes for about 20 years. This all started back when Lowell was at an air show when she was a child.

“I saw some jets that were flying, some military jets, and I just thought that I would really want to be a pilot and as I got older I looked into what I needed to do to make that happen,” Lowell said.

After some research in what it takes to become a military pilot, Lowell didn’t think that was the path for her, especially since women at that time were not allowed to do much flying other than transport missions. She then looked into becoming a civilian pilot and decided that this wasn’t the career that she wanted to pursue, but it was something that kept her interest and wanted to do as a hobby.

Lowell’s first flight was out of the River Falls airport, back when they still had one. Eventually she went to New Richmond, Wisconsin, before finishing up her training in Red Wing, Minnesota.

After getting her private pilots license, Lowell took to the skies and started to fly RC planes, which are planes that can land on the water, and some flying in old World War II military aircrafts. In fact, last fall Lowell went out with her father and did some photo-shoots with their airplanes and one photo ended up on the UWRF physics home page.

Although Lowell flies RC and World War II planes they aren’t hers.

“I do have my own plane,” Lowell said. “I have a little Super Cub.”

Super Cubs are smaller than the ones that most people think of, which are the airliner planes that carry 40 or 50 people. A Super Cub plane holds two passengers: the pilot in the front and the co-pilot in the back. Lowell’s airplane has a 180-horsepower engine. Though there is room for a pilot and co-pilot, Super Cubs don’t need a co-pilot; they are small enough that just the pilot can fly it.

When Lowell goes flying she normally goes by herself or with her dad or brother, since they too are pilots. Unlike most hobbies that can be done at the end of a long day, flying planes is a little more difficult.

“My airplane is fabric covered, it tends to be just as cold inside as it is outside, so I don’t fly all that much in the winter,” Lowell said. “I’ve done trips, kind of like some people do camping trips or road trips. I’ve gone out and just flown airport to airport for a week or so, just to kind of see the small towns.”

Although flying planes is something that Lowell holds dear to her, she said that she is devoted to her students and teaching.

Even though professors can seem tough and scary to students they don’t just lecture and assign homework. They may have more in common if you just ask them.