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Two sisters: On the ground and in the air

Two sisters, both from Excelsior Springs, have taken on the world in very different ways. One has looked skyward, and become a pilot, while the other has kept her feet firmly on the ground, as a marathon runner and avid horse owner.

Sarah Dickerson graduated from Excelsior Springs High School in 1992, and now flies the Embraer 145 for Trans States Airlines. The Embraer is a 50-seat regional jet. For Dickerson, flying a plane simply made sense. In fact, it’s in her blood.

“My mom’s father and grandfather were both pilots, and my dad had his private pilot ­— both single and multi-engine — ratings,” Dickerson said. She added that she grew up with a view of the Excelsior Springs airport from her deck. As a teen, Dickerson was passionate about riding and showing horses, and decided to focus on that rather than getting her ratings. But as she reached her twenties, she said that “the bug which had taken a backseat came roaring back.” She began saving money to get her training — even selling one of her show horses to help finance her ratings.

Sarah Dickerson

“I got my private pilot certificate in 2002 and was a flight instructor by 2005 with every intention of pursuing an airline career at that point in time; however, the industry was still very much in turmoil post-9/11 with very low pay and little hiring,” Dickerson explained. “I again gave up on the notion, but enjoyed flight instructing part-time for 11 years.” But over the past few years, with changed regulations requiring more hours, fewer people were pursuing airline careers. Dickerson decided to go for it. She was hired by Trans States in 2016.

“Every flight is still magical,” said Dickerson. “The flying is amazing.”

Dickerson looks up to the female pilots who came before her.

“The women who were the first female pilots at the various airlines and cargo carriers inspire me greatly. The challenges they faced breaking into what had been a man’s profession were huge, yet they pressed on due to their passion for flying. It’s hard to believe the first female airline pilots didn’t take to the skies until the 1970s — during my lifetime,” she said. Even today, only about five percent of airline pilots are women.

She added that she works with “outstanding, professional crews” and has developed many great friendships. However, she admits that being away from home does take adjustments, although there are trade-offs. Sometimes it’s especially tricky for the Sarah and Jim because they are both pilots. Because of that, she says when they are home, they are home — they don’t work on their days off, or check email or phones.

Dickerson works out of St. Louis but is based in Kansas City. However, both her mom and her sister still live in Excelsior Springs, so in addition to the many memories she has of growing up here, she still has plenty of contact.

“Excelsior was a great place to grow up,” she said. “I have fond memories of riding our horses on the roads all over the east side of town…I visit often and love supporting the small businesses in town whenever I do. A summertime visit is never complete without a stop by Dari-B, we love visiting Willow Spring Mercantile, and I just visited Dubious Claims after a group run with the Fishing River Running Club last week and loved it.”

Stacey Scherer

Stacey Scherer graduated in 1995 is the younger sister of the pair. She is the Marketing Director for Westfall GMC Truck in Kansas City. She’s been married to her husband Phil for just over three years, and together, they live on an 8-acre horse farm just outside of Excelsior Springs. Like her sister, she grew up around horses, and still counts them among her great loves.

“Horses are my main hobby and passion,” Scherer said. She currently has three horses and has shown horses most of her life.

“I love the small-town feel,” Scherer said of Excelsior Springs. She went to college in Columbia, Missouri and later lived in Liberty for seven years.  When she and her husband got married, they “jumped at the chance” to buy land in Excelsior, she said. “We both love the development and small businesses that are popping up in town.  We both ride bikes and can bike downtown for lunch and see people we know.” Her husband organized a bike race that will take place during Waterfest.

She also recently completed the Boston Marathon, which was her fourth marathon.

“I qualified for it right around a year ago, at the Garmin Marathon in Olathe,” said Scherer. “Previously, my most recent marathon was 2010 so even though I still ran, I took quite a few years off of running marathons.  In that time, I got into pacing local half marathons — where I am assigned a specific finish time, and I am responsible for running the race in that time and help others reach their time goal.  Boston is the unicorn of road racing — it’s something marathoners chase and constantly dream of.  When I ran Garmin, my finish time qualified me for Boston by 12 minutes.  It also was 23 minutes faster than my previous marathon best.  I trained for Boston by running at least five days per week through the winter — I worked with a coach, so he set my training schedule.”

You may have even seen Scherer running around town in Excelsior Springs — literally.

“I also run and am involved in the Fishing River Club in Excelsior Springs,” Scherer said. “Most Saturday mornings, there are at least two or three of us running around the streets of Excelsior in the early morning hours preparing for our various races.”

Scherer draws inspiration from her parents, who also grew up in Excelsior.

“They inspired and encouraged me to do well in school, pursue my education at the University of Missouri, and set an example on hard work and its rewards,” Scherer said.

By Samantha Kilgore •

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