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Wall of Honor Level: Air and Space Sponsor
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Miles
Rhonda Jean Miles was born in the southeast Arkansas town of Pine Bluff. Her father was a 'crop-duster' pilot and he insisted that Rhonda and her brother Kevin had to learn to fly before they could drive a car. Rhonda soloed at age 16, followed by her brother the next year. Flying was not a passion for her at this time. After becoming a wife and raising two children, at the age of 28 she made a phone call to her parents, "send me an airplane, I am going back to frying. I have decided this is what I want to do with my life."
Rhonda moved back to help her parents in their 'crop-dusting' business. The next few years she was very busy attaining her Commercial Certificate, flying customers, chasing parts and doing office work. She was able to get some 'crop dusting' experience by 'flagging' and applying fertilizer to wheat fields.
Rhonda became Program Chairman for the Arkansas Chapter of the 99s, became a member of the Pine Bluff Airport Commission and made two trips to the South Pacific as a member of a 'search group' looking for a missing World War II pilot.
Moving to Nashville Tennessee, she bought a J-3 Cub and soon became known as The Cub Lady because she taught people to fly and gave "tail wheel" check-outs. She purchased a Cessna 310 and soon became multi-engine rated.
While working on her Piper Cub, she met Nikki Mitchell. Nikki was Office Manager and President of Waylon Jenning's music. Nikki had just purchased a Maule M-5 that was stored in a barn. Together they rescued the Maule and flew it to Alaska and back. They decided that they were compatible so they started work on the 'Bridge of Wings' flight.
The "Flight of the Rodina," was accomplished in 1938. Three Russian women pilots flew their twin-engine airplane from Moscow, across Siberia, to Ossipenko (on the eastern coast of Russia), thereby setting a world record for distance. By so doing they opened up Siberia to aviation.
Rhonda and Nikki took off from Lebanon, Tennessee on July 4, 1998. The goal was to fry to Moscow and then re-create the "Flight of the Rodina," continuing on to Alaska and then to Lebanon, Tennessee to end the flight. The goal was accomplished.
Rhonda and Nikki received the 1st "Top Flight" award given by the Southeast Region of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Currently (in 2004) Rhonda is employed as a Corporate Pilot. She is rated in Lears, Hawkers, and King Airs. She possesses an Air Transport Rating. She is a Certified Flight Instructor with Glider and Seaplane ratings.
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