Meg Godlewski (‘87, Journalism) is passionate about two things—aviation and writing—and she’s figured out how to combine the two into a satisfying career.
Godlewski is now the technical editor for the largest aviation magazine in the United States, Flying, which has been published since 1927.
“I didn’t want one of those careers where you’re just doing something to make money,” says Godlewski, a seasoned journalist who covered the industry for 16 years at General Aviation News before landing her new role. “We spend most of our lives at work, and I want to be happy.”
Godlewski, a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor who lives in Seattle, says her love for aviation is in her genes. Her mother learned to fly as a teenager, and her father was an aerospace engineer at Lockheed-Martin. Growing up next door to Moffett Federal Airfield in California’s Santa Clara County, Godlewski watched the Blue Angels fly over her front yard when she was a toddler and went to aviation shows with her parents while growing up.
She fell in love with news reporting when she was in the Broadcasting program at Humboldt State University. When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986, Godlewski watched the event on live TV at the student center, then ran to the radio station in the basement of Bret Hart House and jumped into the sound booth, the first reporter to break the news to Humboldt County.
“It was an incredible adrenaline rush,” she says. “I knew I wanted to do that again.”
The skills Godlewski learned at Humboldt State have served her well in her career.
"Journalism instructors Howard Seeman, Pete Wilson, Mac McClary, and Mark Larson taught us to be skeptical and to ask lots of questions. We learned if both sides accuse you of siding with the other, you have done your job right."
She adds, “Aircraft manufacturers love to say things are new and improved. I’ll ask them, ‘What’s new and improved about it? Why?’ They can’t just tell me. They have to show me.”
At Flying, Godlewski writes everything from historical features, news, and pilot reports to technical articles and accident analysis, working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board.
“We don’t cast blame, but we deliver the facts so, hopefully, no one else makes the same mistakes,” she says. “We don’t editorialize, and attribution is critical in these stories.”
Godlewski also serves as a flight instructor, contributes to aviation textbooks, creates computer scenarios for Redbird Flight Simulators and writes a column for Aviation for Women magazine.
“Women make up approximately 6 percent of the aviation population. That includes pilots, dispatchers, engineers, and mechanics,” she says. “It can be very isolating to be ‘the only woman’ at flight/aviation events. I hope through my column, Women in Aviation, I can demonstrate that there are many of us out here, and we often share the same challenges.”
Godlewski was drawn to Cal Poly Humboldt because of its beautiful campus, dedicated community, and the opportunity to play drums in the Marching Lumberjacks.
“The culture was dedicated to getting an education and using your skills and knowledge to give back to the community, not just to get a paycheck,” she says. “And there was something special when I learned that the marching band just didn't do school sporting events and parades—the band played at open houses, community festivals, and at senior centers. They were part of the community, part of the culture of the Humboldt family.”
She applauds her alma mater’s new era as Cal Poly Humboldt. “Humboldt State University’s transition to a polytechnic makes me happy because now I have such a technical background in addition to my liberal arts degree,” she says.