Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Gagne, Patricia L.

Author's Keywords

Serious leisure; Women; Motivation; Benefits; Airplane piloting


Women air pilots; Women--Recreation--Social aspects; Leisure--Social aspects


Serious leisure theory (Stebbins, 1992) is used to frame this examination of women's long-term involvement in airplane piloting. Through in-depth, semi-structured telephone and e-mail interviews with women having over 15 years experience as private pilots, this study examines their leading motivations and their personal and social benefits realized through airplane piloting as a leisure activity. Women's participation in amateur airplane piloting displays the six characteristics of serious leisure. In addition to the durable benefits ascribed to serious leisure, the respondents demonstrated several other personal and social benefits. The interview data revealed that women pursue airplane piloting as independent, interdependent, or dependent pilots. I identified independent pilots as the women who were intrinsically motivated to become involved with piloting for self-oriented rewards. Interdependent pilots who decided with their significant others to engage in airplane piloting as a shared leisure activity demonstrates internalization of extrinsic motivation. Dependent pilots are women whose partner had already been piloting for years before they are extrinsically motivated to pursue their pilot certificates in order to assist their partners. Using grounded theory analysis and feminist research methodology, this study allowed a comparison of benefits realized from airplane piloting as serious leisure based upon women's initial motivations to become pilots. This study of women airplane pilots enabled insight into women's involvement in a male dominated serious leisure that requires a significant investment of time, effort and money in the acquisition and maintenance of specialized skills.