Flying Higher with AirLife Utah’s All-Female Crew


Women of Aviation Worldwide Week Shines a Light on Heroes of the Skies 

Ogden, UT, March 6, 2023 – When residents of Weber County need emergency air medical service, they might be surprised to meet AirLife Utah’s all-female crew. Lead Pilot Jen Prince, Flight Nurse Jennie McEnany, and Flight Paramedic/Clinical Base Lead Erica Rau make a powerful team serving the community, and their accomplishments highlight why celebrating Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, March 6 – 12, is so important. 

“As women, we tend to be smaller and weigh less than the men, so we can carry more patient weight and more fuel onboard the aircraft,” said Jennie McEnany, flight nurse with AirLife Utah. “Because we weigh less and can take more fuel, we can land at higher altitudes and travel farther distances for patients in remote areas or those needing to go further for a higher level of care.” 

Flight Paramedic Erica Rau said that in addition to the flight advantages, there are social benefits as well. 

“I think it is really encouraging to work alongside other strong female aviators and employees,” said Rau. “All of us are aware that pre-hospital medicine and aviation are largely male-dominated fields. I am proud of how far we have come in our careers, and representing females in the workspace environment is really fulfilling. It is great to be able to show young women that we can have neat jobs too.”  

They each came to the air medical field through different routes. When Pilot Jen Prince first started flying, she had several mentors who worked for helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS). Their stories about complex landings and unusual patients inspired her. Rau followed in the footsteps of her paramedic father and started working with a ground ambulance crew right out of high school. That brought her in contact with helicopters and flight teams and she knew that was where she wanted to be. McEnany was an ER/trauma nurse, but always knew she wanted to be a flight nurse because caring for the most critical patients requires the most critical thinking, especially in a helicopter. 

“I like to think of our all-female crew as kind of like the A-Star helicopters that we use in our region,” said McEnany. “We may be smaller, but we have that little bit of extra moxie that makes us just as adept as the bigger guys.” 

Whether the women are flying together or not, every AirLife Utah helicopter carries a highly skilled crew. All the clinicians and pilots have years of experience in the field and receive advanced, ongoing training. Every nurse and paramedic has access to Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training program that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure. Air Methods Ascend is also available to medical personnel across the county.  

AirLife Utah flies an AS350 helicopter able to perform in the high altitude and intense heat of the region. It carries blood in flight for accident victims experiencing extreme blood loss and a risk of hemorrhagic shock. It has a fast lift time, bringing life-saving care to accident scenes when every minute counts. 

“Nothing is better than arriving on scene and seeing the reaction from local EMS, fire, and police when three short girls pop out of the helicopter,” said Prince. 

To all of the women who take to the skies in order to help others, we salute you.