Local pilot and flight instructor loves Prescott’s outdoors, climate, and community

Prescott Woman Magazine chatted with Natalie Mills, a flight instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, to find out what makes her enjoy Prescott and everything it has to offer.

PWM: How long have you lived in Prescott?

Natalie: Two and a half years.

PWM: Why did you choose Prescott as your home?

Natalie: I moved to Prescott to complete my commercial pilot certificate. My fiancé is a pilot as well and completed his training at Embry-Riddle. We were living in Los Angeles when I first started my commercial training, and I felt the training there lacked a sense of professionalism. My fiancé suggested we move to Prescott, which offered a more professional and structured environment for flight training. Looking back, moving to Prescott was the best decision I made for myself and my career.

PWM: What’s your occupation?

Natalie: I’m a flight instructor at Embry-Riddle.

PWM: What is your favorite thing about living in the Prescott area?

Natalie: I love rock climbing, trail running, and surfing. I haven’t been able to surf as much as I like since Prescott is missing an ocean. However, the amount of rock climbing and trail access in Prescott keeps me plenty busy.

PWM: Do you have any kids?

Natalie: Not yet … just furry ones.

PWM: What is your favorite thing about living in the Prescott area?

Natalie: My favorite aspects of Prescott are the immediate access to the outdoors, the climate, and the community. Since it is so feasible to get out, I am able to create a healthy work/play balance. With the temperate climate, I can maintain this balance year-round. It sounds cheesy, but I honestly feel that I am on a permanent vacation living here. I have also thoroughly enjoyed making new friends in the outdoor community. I have been fortunate enough to meet some exceptionally great women who also enjoy pushing their limits outdoors. I find that when people share the experience of a challenge, in whatever hobby that may be, it creates strong and honest friendships.

PWM: How do you think Prescott enhances your occupation and hobbies?

Natalie: While living in Prescott, I have been able to advance both my career and hobbies. This is very important to me, as I enjoy being a dynamic person. Climbing and flying have served as the perfect pair. When I climb, I can unplug from the world and enjoy nature, which helps me feel restored. I am also able to strengthen my self-trust and confidence through the decision-making climbing requires. This has transferred beautifully over to flying. I have found that my confidence in instructing and trusting my decision-making in the air is directly related to my experiences on the rock, and vice versa! I don’t know any other town that would allow me to create such a rewarding and unique life.

PWM: Are you working on anything new or exciting for the upcoming year?

Natalie: My professional goals for the upcoming year are to continue to evolve my teaching strategies, specifically in Scenario Based Training. Aviation is an extremely dynamic environment, and often the most challenging area to teach Is Aeronautical Decision Making. As instructors, we are constantly coming up with new scenarios to challenge our students’ decision-making skills, in order to make them safe pilots. In terms of my recreational goals, I intend to keep pushing my comfort zones in both climbing and running.

PWM: If you could contribute to anything in the Prescott area, what would it be and why?

Natalie: I have recently begun volunteering at a community composting site my friend Gabe Kerbs runs. It has been so neat to watch his operation grow and see how positive the community engagement has been. Gabe’s site is taking in the participants’ food scraps that would otherwise go to. landfill, and turning them into nutrient-dense compost that will be available to Prescott Farmers Market customers. Come flip piles on Sunday mornings! (Learn more at the Saturday Farmers Market.)

Aspiring pilots can contact Natalie at njmills24@yahoo.com with any questions.