In 1999, Lane Wallace became the first woman columnist in the 72-year history of Flying magazine—an internationally acclaimed publication with over 300,000 readers, 96% of whom were men. Despite all the challenges posed by such an overwhelmingly male audience and industry, Lane quickly developed an enthusiastic following, becoming one of the magazine’s most popular writers and, eventually, its West Coast Editor. How did she succeed as a pioneer in such a challenging majority-culture environment? By leveraging the core strength she’d built through years of exploring the world, as a pilot and adventure writer, and exploring herself, as a woman in search of wisdom and insight. Her work now focuses on sharing those lessons and insights with other people struggling with diverse work environments––and, especially, with women working in male-dominated workplaces.
Lane became a pilot at the age of 24 and made the decision, five years later, to leave a lucrative corporate marketing job to pursue a more uncertain, but more meaningful, career as a self-employed adventure writer. Over the next two and a half decades, her work took her across six continents and from 120 feet below sea level to 70,000 feet above the Earth. She’s flown an Air Force U-2 spy plane and was part of the first crew to ferry a blimp successfully through the Alps. She’s gone wreck diving in the South Pacific, landed on glaciers, flown relief supplies into conflict zones in Africa and the Amazon, explored the Australian Outback, piloted a submarine, and climbed mountains in Nepal and the French Alps. She’s also flown her own airplane all around the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
In addition to her work at Flying, Lane has written six books for NASA, two books on adventure (Surviving Uncertainty and Unforgettable), published over 150 articles and essays for The Atlantic, and has written for national and international publications including The New York Times, Outside magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and ForbesLife, as well as Britain’s Flight International and the UAE’s The Investigator. In addition, she’s worked as a writer and producer on a number of television and video projects, including the Telly-Award-winning documentary Breaking the Chain. In 2009, she also founded No Map. No Guide. No Limits—a website offering thought-provoking content and support for anyone trying to find or create a more meaningful career path.
Throughout her time at Flying, Lane was frequently asked how she’d managed to succeed and be happy in such a male-dominated industry. So when she retired her column in 2015, Lane turned her attention to answering that question. She started by reverse-engineering her own experience, reflecting and interviewing colleagues and readers to discover what the most critical elements of her success had been. She then spent three years doing research and interviewing educators, therapists, and professional women around the country to broaden her understanding of the issues and challenges other women faced; what helped them, and what hindered them.
That research, in addition to her own experiences and insights, forms the basis of Lane’s current work in diversity and inclusion, as well as her career coaching for women. She writes a regular magazine column called “Core Strength” for Women in Aviation, International and is working on a book based on her experience and research, titled Core Strength: Being Happy and Having Impact in a World Run by Men. She’s coached women in both aerospace and tech industries and has spoken to a wide variety of audiences. She brings a unique perspective, and key cross-cultural understanding, to her talks on diversity and inclusion. As a result, she’s extremely effective at bridging the gender gap between men and women in an audience; inspiring men to want to listen and offering women new ways of viewing their challenges and colleagues.
Lane has been interviewed on NPR, BBC, and other TV and radio outlets. Listen to Lane's interview on Minnesota Public Radio here.