Penny KrauseALTON – Penny Krause has had quite a year at Alton Memorial Hospital. The manager of Respiratory Therapy, the Sleep Lab and Neurodiagnostics worked hard to get the Sleep Lab accredited and was also a key figure as AMH transitioned to the EPIC electronic medical record system.

For her efforts, Penny received the Leadership Award at the AMH Employee Awards Banquet in April. That probably didn’t leave a lot of time to do much away from the hospital.

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Oh, except she also learned how to fly an airplane and became a pilot.

“This was something that had never entered my mind until very recently,” said Penny, who has been a respiratory therapist for 31 years. “My husband, Dennis Krause, has been a pilot for more than 30 years. We’ve been married three years. And I didn’t even know he was a pilot when we first met.”

But Penny began to feel the urge about a year and a half ago and went to work. She began flight training at Downtown Airport in Cahokia. Her first solo flight in a Cessna 172 was July 30, 2017, from Cahokia to Vandalia and back to Cahokia– about 106 miles round trip.

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The required flight time for private pilot certificate is a minimum of 40 hours, which consists of at least 20 hours of flight training with an instructor and at least 10 hours of solo flying in a single-engine plane.

“It’s so much fun,” Penny said. “I like it even more than I thought I would. It’s a great feeling. I was a little nervous the first time I was to fly solo, until I felt the plane lift off the ground.”

Penny and her husband have flown to places like Leadville, Colo., which has the highest altitude airport in the country, Mackinac Island next to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, plus Fort Myers Beach and Key West in Florida.

Penny now has a private pilot certificate, more than 100 hours of flight time and is endorsed to fly a high-performance Cessna 182 with an iO 550.

“The iO 550 always impresses other pilots; it’s like driving a hot rod car,” Penny said. “The cruising speed is 155 mph. We’ve flown at speeds up to 232 mph and altitudes up to 17,500 feet.”

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