Once a shy kid, Latina pilot flying high

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Growing up, Sophia Matias was a quiet kid. (WLS)

One 27-year-old Chicago woman is reaching heights few Latinas have experienced.

Growing up, Sophia Matias was a quiet kid.

"I think I can come off as shy initially," said Matias.

But over the years, her confidence grew, and when she graduated from Wheaton College, her career choices didn't necessarily fit the "shy type."

"It was kind of between stunt person, or snowboarder or pilot," Matias said.

A pilot. A woman. A Latina. In other words, a rare bird.

"You definitely notice that you're sort of a minority," she said. "Once people get over you're a female...you just deliver and make sure you know what's going on."

Matias soars the city's skyline-past iconic buildings and landmarks.

"Not many people get to see this everyday...so it's an honor," she said.

She works for Rotor Zen, giving aerial tours of the city. A Latina, flying high, filled with Puerto Rican pride.

"My dad's side...just moving here from Puerto Rico and building a life," Matias said. "It's awesome to represent my family and be proud of where I come from."

That Puerto Rican family from Humboldt Park is not small, and they want to fly too.

"I have like 200 people who want to come...and they're all family," she said.

Up there, Matias celebrates other families' anniversaries, wedding proposals, or in today's case-a 90th birthday.

"She was so great. We enjoyed her," said Bernadette Stanis, a passenger celebrating her birthday.

Matias is also First Lieutenant Matias in the Illinois National Guard.

"I fly U-60 Blackhawks for the Army," said Matias.

Matias' air assault company is based at Midway Airport. She was commissioned as a military officer four years ago.

"I wanted the Army experience too for the challenge," she said.

Because you never know...that shy kid may soar, and soar high.

"No matter how many flights you do in a day," Matias said. "For me, it doesn't get old."

The Illinois National Guard says Matias is one of the first Latina pilots to fly the Blackhawk in the state's National Guard. A spokesman says the Illinois Guard doesn't track demographics to that level, but they do know that 10 percent of the army's pilots are women.
Related Topics:
societyhispanic heritage monthChicago - Humboldt Park
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