Helicopters, Blog Writing, Cheerleading and Wedding Planning: Alum Does it All

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 23, 2010

By Sarah R. Schwartz ’10

Amy Elizabeth Manning ’03 is in demand and is putting her B.A. in Communications to good use. She coaches cheerleading, keeps a blog and is planning her wedding, but it’s her 9-to-5 that keeps her in flight. Since 2004, Manning has been working as a helicopter camera operator. “I think I have the coolest job in the world,” she says. “Okay, so maybe an actor’s job is awesome, but this runs a pretty close second.”

It’s been a long winding path for Manning whose transition from college to career wasn’t an easy one. Focused on finding the right fit, she tried out many positions in news before finding her current position. “I was very lucky to have met the people I did, when I did,” she says.

Manning obtained her first training as a helicopter camera operator while a back-up photographer for NBC’s Chopper 10. Her experience is proof that just because it isn’t a full-time position doesn’t mean it can’t turn into one. During her time with Chopper 10, Manning got to meet a lot of people in the aviation field. Since then she has worked for WTXF’s SkyFox and CBS’s Chopper 3 until landing her current full-time position in ABC’s Chopper 6.

At work, Manning describes her duties as “relatively simple,” but the amount of coordination and focus it requires makes the job a complex one. While in the air, it is her responsibility to keep in constant communication with the station via radio.  She tapes all video feeds in the helicopter, as well as assisting the pilot in locating other air traffic. “At any one time I am listening to four different radios, and that is not including the communication between the pilot and myself,” she says. “Basically, I am a goddess at multi-tasking.”

A champion of to-do lists and coffee, Manning has been working on her efficiency for years. While she was a student, she was a co-captain of the Arcadia Cheerleading Team. Working very hard to build that team from a small team to the Varsity level squad in two years, she became one of the first Arcadia cheerleading coaches. And in July 2008 she became a coach at Central Bucks East. “Cheerleading is something I am very passionate about, and always have been.  Trying to fit it in my schedule has been hard, but I feel if you really love something, you make time for it,” she says.

In addition to all of her commitments, Manning is planning out her lifetime commitment to her fiancé Justin Gindin of Philadelphia. She admits that planning a wedding is like a part-time job in itself, but she’s enjoying it. “I am so excited to see the final product,” and she jokes, “Oh yeah. And to get married. That, too.”

Friends, family and members of any online community can follow her progress, step-by-step on her blog Lizzie in Progress. Combining her interest in interior design with her professional and interpersonal development, Manning embarked on her blog in May 2009. “I think everyone is a work in progress—you don’t just wake up one day and are suddenly this well-adjusted person. You need to work on your attitudes and learn certain lessons,” she says.

“I measure success by how happy I am.  As long as I am happy doing the work I am doing, I am the most successful person I know.”