Lainie McElwee, a 19-year-old Laramie native, was crowned Miss Laramie Jubilee on New Year’s Eve at the beginning of 2020. Continuing to represent Jubilee Days and the Laramie community, Lainie is currently pursuing her pilot education in Florida through Epic Flight Academy.
Beginning in 2019, Lainie served as a Miss Laramie Jubilee Lady in Waiting and was then offered the prestigious honor of her current title which she will hold until the 2020 year is complete. Duties of the Jubilee Days royalty include attending meetings to represent Laramie as well as making appearances at events such as the annual Jubilee Days parade. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic’s shut down of many public events, Lainie’s duties as Miss Laramie Jubilee 2020 have unfortunately been reduced to accommodate the set social distancing guidelines.
While the changes to Lainie’s year in her position due to the pandemic have been heartbreaking, it has given her the opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a licensed pilot. In the summer of 2017, Lainie began discovering her passion for flying. She tells the story of first exploring the idea, saying “I was in the Denver airport and I approached a pilot and I said ‘hey, what is the process to become a pilot?” The pilot then told her to investigate flying lessons in Laramie, and Lainie eagerly joined the Laramie Flying Club, later studying at Wings of Wyoming located in Cheyenne.
Since July 3rd, Lainie has been attending the Epic Flight Academy located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she studies flight through both simulations and field practice. “This area of Florida has probably the highest volume of flight training in the country because there are so many schools here,” Lainie explained.
Currently, the Jubilee Days Queen has a private pilot’s license and is in the process of earning her commercial pilot’s license through her studies in Florida. “I really do like flying, I’m not entirely sure what I want to do after flight school, I know that there are a lot of different paths that I can take… Honestly, I’m kind of looking at charter plane flying or something kind of different.”
On top of her accomplishments, Lainie also has a lifelong love for animals and she owns multiple horses and an array of other animals on her parents’ property. “I have a lot of animals and I do miss them a lot, but when my parents come out [to Florida] next month they will bring some of them. For example, my pet snake which does much better in a Florida climate then a Wyoming climate… It is going to be awhile until I see my horses though, which is sad.”
Because Lainie has lived in Wyoming for most of her life, going to a new environment is making her realize the uniqueness of the Laramie native lifestyle. Just a few days ago, Lainie was playing her music late at night when “all of the sudden I realized ‘I have neighbors!’” Having neighbors, she explains, is something completely new to her as she has always lived on the wide-open plains on the outskirts of Laramie. “It’s interesting to see how I am so used to something specific, living in Wyoming… In Wyoming you can see for miles, but you can’t see anything down here [in Florida].”
The Miss Laramie Jubilee contract will be up at the close of 2020 and currently Lainie is in a state of limbo with the possibility of an extension on her contract due to Covid-19. She will hopefully know by the end of July if she will be able to continue her title through 2021 based on the circumstances, but until then, Lainie will be representing Laramie by taking to the sky as an aspiring pilot.