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From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Air Force Veteran Reenters the Cockpit at 58

Finalist in Gender Equality


The idea driving this human-interest video profile was to inspire, connect and uplift people with a story of finding purpose later in life and excelling in a second career. It is part of AARP’s Real People, Real Stories series, which celebrates the actions of ordinary individuals from diverse backgrounds whose actions have made an extraordinary impact on themselves and a wider community. 

Our goal was to connect with a 50-plus, female audience by telling the story of 58-year-old Tamaron Nicklas who became an Air Force pilot in 1986, graduating in just the 7th class that allowed women. After many years of flying, she stepped away to raise a family. Once her children were grown, she re-skilled and trained to become a commercial pilot. And since women make up only about 3 percent of commercial pilots, Nicklas has become a mentor and instructor to younger women who are training to take to the skies.

We hoped to provide inspiration to people who might be seeking more meaning in their work life. We set out to show how Nicklas exceeded expectations by entering a male dominated field and successfully transferred her flying experience into a challenging second career as an older adult. Our goal was to show the power of breaking barriers and the importance of pursuing passions at any age. 

Strategy and Execution

We brought this story to life by building trust with our main subject and staying committed to the key elements of our Real People, Real Stories storytelling format. At every touch point, we established a connection with Tamaron Nicklas, which allowed her to share her story in a compelling way.

Since our subject is an active employee of Southwest Airlines, we had to work within her unpredictable pilot schedule to nail down a convenient time and place to interview her, where we could also capture relevant b-roll. Patience and flexibility around scheduling the interview and b-roll shoot proved to be essential. 

Additionally, we had to work with corporate employers and Southwest’s PR department to gain access for this profile. We wanted to ensure we were maintaining editorial integrity when creating this piece, but we also needed to gain access to corporate filming locations for the shoot. The solution to this was collaboration and while maintaining transparency with our independent editorial standards while working with Southwest.

Despite the challenges in the filmmaking, the video shared the joy and purpose in finding a second career as an older adult, while also breaking professional barriers. We strived to show Nicklas’s journey to returning to the workforce and how finding passion later in life has had a multiplying effect on her family, community  and colleagues.


This video resonated strongly with our audience on Facebook, especially with our target audience for this video of 50-plus women. It reached more than 4.6 million people, earned more than 2.3 million views and received nearly 200,000 engagements. Viewers connected with the video’s message that they can take on new challenges and find ways to harness their experience at any age. Countless people mentioned how the video inspired them to accomplish things in their own lives. Here is a sample of the more than 1,500 comments:


Entrant Company / Organization Name

AARP Studios


Entry Credits