Rising Stars: A Key Insight From a Tragic Story of a Wonderful Rising Star.

For this blog, I highlight a very simple but key insight that comes from a Tragic story of a wonderful Rising Star, a young girl named Jessica Dubroff, a 7-year-old Rising Star.


Jessica was an amazing young girl who loved flying. She was nowhere close to being old enough to attain her solo certificate as a student pilot, but she flew with an instructor pilot and as I recall had about 25 hours flying a small Cessna 177 airplane.



It turned out that there were some people, and perhaps her family, that wanted to make her the “Youngest Pilot to fly across the United States”. A good vision for this young Rising Star who loved flying. On April 11, 1996, this cross-country flight in a Cessna 177 single engine airplane, Jessica’s father flew in the back seat and her instructor sat in the right seat appropriately while Jessica was in the left seat appropriately. They took off from the West Coast and then they landed at Cheyenne, Wyoming, to be refueled before continuing the trip to the next stop on the Cross Country.


Then the trouble came on scene because a large thunderstorm moved into the area and was a short distance from the airport. Pilots all over the airport refused to go fly because of the danger and risk of it. The Jessica’s instructor and father were talking to the airport pros about the risk and such. Reports indicated that while standing there, Jessica’s father stated that they had to go because there was a news crew waiting at the next airport and they had to get there on time. He and the instructor concluded that they could turn after takeoff and go around the storm to one side.


The instructor decided to takeoff and no thought was given to the incredible Windshear effects generated around thunderstorms. Well, the problem was not good. They took off and tried to turn around the thunderstorm. Unfortunately, they hit a violent Windshear and downwash from the thunderstorm. Unfortunately, the airplane stopped flying and they completely lost control…the Cessna fell out of the sky and impacted nose first. All onboard; Jessica, her father & the instructor all died in the crash.


I want to offer you a critical question that comes from this tragic story. Understand, I do not know what he father and the instructor were truly thinking when they made this bad decision, but it does simply offer a key insight for us to consider. It does offer a couple of key questions that I offer for your consideration:


  1. As you look at what you are doing with your Rising Stars, to what extent might your focus insidiously be focused on the applause or fame that you seek?

  2. How do you need to enhance Clarity on your true purpose in the vision with them?

  3. What do you need to do differently so that the focus as you work with them is on their Destiny, Success but also on their Current Risk?


- Randy Swaim, Coaching for Relevance, LLC