Houston based 737 First Officer Katrina Mittelstadt's love of flying was strong enough to melt a young girl's shyness on a recent flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas. The girl's father was so impressed he sent a letter to us right after the flight, which made Katrina's day when we shared it with her.

"I'm a pilot myself, though not for an airline, so I try sometimes to get up to the cockpit to say hello," the customer wrote. "We were excited to see that one of the pilots was a woman, because our 7-year-old daughter [Eve] was with us. She talks about learning to fly, and she really enjoys it. Katrina Mittelstadt was the first officer on that flight. My daughter wouldn't come to the cockpit, feeling shy. Katrina came back to us in row 8 to give her a few gifts and say hello. The most important of these was her business card, on the back of which she had written, 'You can be anything you want to be! :)' we were honestly moved."

Katrina said, "When I finished my preflight duties, I welcomed her aboard and delivered our United Passport and her first set of United wings. Her dad told me how she loves going flying with him and has an interest in becoming a pilot herself...of course, she wants her jet ratings first (I did, too, Eve!). Hopefully someday she can trade in the junior pilot wings for the same ones I'm so proud to wear today. I was encouraged by my parents to pursue my dreams, whatever they were. Becoming a first officer for United is something I am very proud of, and using that as an example to inspire our next generation is a passion of mine."

Eve's dad said Katrina's gesture made him feel "honestly a little choked up," and explained why. "It's one thing to have her hear this from her parents, but it's another entirely for her to get that sort of encouragement from a stranger already in such a role. She's faced discouragement from the young boys at her school, so we think this is especially critical. Well done, United."