Breaking down barriers: the women of Mercy Flight

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- According to Women in Aviation International, women make up only about six percent of the work force in aviation-related professions.

“It was very intimidating. Even when I came for the interview, it was quite nerve racking, but exciting at the same time,” said Charisse Pinzone, an aircraft technician for Mercy Flight of Western New York.

She described how she felt going into a job where she knew she’d be the only woman, and the first woman to fill that role.

Working at the non-profit had been a dream of hers for years; like flight nurse Jennifer Crotty, she joined the Mercy Flight team to make a difference.

But both women know by working in a male-dominated field, they have a chance to set an example for young girls.

Crotty was surprised by the response she got at a recent school visit.

“The children, as soon as we got out of the aircraft, said ‘look there’s a girl!”

Crotty is also a skilled flight nurse with years of hospital, critical care, and transport experience.

Pilot Jeanne Suski is only woman in her role at Mercy Flight; she became a pilot in 1980s.

“I actually didn’t think about it that much. Anyone I met who was learning to fly was just excited about flying, so that’s a pretty common denominator,” she said.

All of their roles are vital to making the Mercy Flight mission possible.

Crotty didn’t realize in 2017, kids would still be shocked to see her as part of this crew.

“I took that and embraced it. Yeah, females do this job. We can do it and we’re strong.”

Suski flies because she loves it; she didn’t become a pilot to be a trailblazer, but if it happens along that way, she’s okay with that.

“I love aviation, so if plant a seed in a girl’s mind or a boy’s mind it’s all good to me.”

  • For more information about Mercy Flight of Western New York, click here.
  • Mercy Flight’s annual Beacon of Hope Gala is celebrating 36 years of saving lives in western New York. The event will be held Sept. 9 at Kleinhans, with a performance by Daniel Rodriguez. For more information on the event, click here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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