By Chris Sholly
Lebanon Daily News, Pa.
Since she was a young girl, Carey D. Lohrenz had set her sights on becoming a U.S. Navy pilot. Getting there wasn’t easy, but she did, making history as the first woman assigned to fly an F-14 Tomcat fighter.
On Thursday, Lohrenz spoke at the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors fall seminar at the Hershey Lodge in Derry Township, where she shared her experiences as well as the lessons she learned during her career as a Navy fighter pilot.
Lohrenz said she was always drawn to naval aviation, particularly because she liked being part of a team. At the University of Wisconsin, Lohrenz was a member of the school’s rowing team.
“I was so focused on a team and an organization that was about mission before self,” she recalled during her speech.
After graduating from college, she applied to the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School, an intense 16-week program that tested her physical and mental abilities. She shared her 10 years of experience as a Navy pilot planning, executing and debriefing complex missions, showing short videos of Navy training and pilots doing their jobs on an aircraft carrier.
“The top of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous industrial work sites in the world,” she said. “So for us, to be able to operate in an excellent manner and to be able to learn continually and communicate with each other effectively is critical to our day-to-day operations.”
To be successful, Lohrenz said, leaders need to focus on what matters and to focus on one mission. On the aircraft carrier, it is the safe takeoff and landing of the planes, she said.
“You can’t have 10 missions, because then you’re going to be overwhelmed with the number of priorities and your team is not going to be aligned on what the most important desired outcome is,” she said.