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Dee Masterson: Living on Cloud Nine

Having grown up in a family of pilots, it’s no wonder Dee Masterson is fond of flying. Whether piloting private jets or flying commercial planes, being airborne was always second nature to the Highland Village resident. Not surprisingly, her husband Jim happens to be a first officer for Southwest Airlines in Dallas. Having retired from flying the friendly skies a year after the birth of her first child, the full-time mother of two now navigates through the playful turbulence Mackay, 4, and J.P., 2, may sometimes cause. We caught up with Masterson as she dishes on flying, family and her new life with two feet planted firmly on the ground—most of the time, that is.

Did you dream about flying as a little girl?  
In the 4th grade I wrote in my “me” book that when I grew up I wanted to be a pilot. But I don’t think I had a real passion for it until much later. My dad bought a small plane when I was a senior in high school. My first ride was hot and bumpy but my second ride was smooth. I loved it. I kept looking down thinking those people are way down there driving … and I’m flying!

So what do you dream about now?
Giving my children the opportunities to follow their dreams—whatever they might be.

Before you retired, what was it like being a pregnant captain?
It’s really funny to be a pregnant pilot—the looks I would receive from passengers were priceless. Since the airline [industry] are predominately male [staffed], there are few women pilots and even less pregnant pilots. There were some advantages and disadvantages being pregnant in this male-dominated field. For example, they do not make a uniform for a pregnant pilot, so you are on your own to find or make a maternity shirt that resembles a pilot shirt.  

How has life changed since having children?
Motherhood is more challenging than being a pilot. But I love being with the kids and experiencing life’s little moments with them. Flying was exciting and fun, but family life is a different kind of fun and it’s so much more rewarding. As a female pilot, I worked hard to accomplish something amazing. Now I’m encouraging my kids to do the same.

Do you find it hard to make time for yourself?
I probably give too much of myself to my children—if there even is such a thing. I do miss my free time. Jim is always telling me to go do something for myself since I rarely do. He’s so supportive, and he’s a great husband and dad. It’s funny, I swore I’d never marry a pilot. Never say never!

What is your favorite way to spend time with family?
Traveling. We travel a lot. I feel like I’m constantly needing to go somewhere, see new things … whether the destination is somewhere far, like Hawaii, or near, like a local park. I want my children to experience new things—from watching a play to going to the fair and everything else in between.