Pilot training gets a boost for potential pilots at the latest Women in Aviation International event
As a young aviation enthusiast in high school, I remember being the only girl to join our local Aviation Explorer’s Club. Aviation was then (and still is now) a male-dominated field, and for me, high school was the perfect time to explore potential career opportunities, and that’s exactly what I was doing. It was my first type of pilot training, and it changed my life.
As a club, we would go to the local airport and talk to pilots and flight instructors, which fascinated me. Every month we would do some sort of ground school lesson, and they would even take us up for an introductory flight (or two or three). Participating in this club was how the flying bug bit me, and I was sorry for other young women and potential pilots who did not have the same opportunity.
My early introduction to flying led me down a great career path, and I don’t regret a thing – not the expense of my lessons, nor the technical knowledge that I had to pull out of thin air since I was not mechanically inclined, not even the looks of “what are YOU doing here” when I showed up for my airline interviews – it was all worth it, and I’m not sure that I would have ever followed through with aviation if I didn’t have that early exposure.
Fortunately, the Women in Aviation International (WAI) is picking up where my Aviation Explorers Club left off. WAI had another fantastic turnout for its Eighth Annual “Girls in Aviation Day.” From the number of girls registered, my days of being the only girl interested in flying are long gone!
More than 16,000 young women participated in 120 events worldwide; 19 countries hosted the program at airports, museums, and FBOs. During the event, the girls had a chance to meet and talk with female role models, listen to panels of career experts, tour the airport grounds, including aircraft hangars, and participate in many activities that offered hands-on experience.
There are also many opportunities for learning at the event. Information sessions discussed engines, avionics, weather, and even space!
This year, WAI relaunched its Aviation for Girls App, which includes new content and educational activities, while introducing a new junior membership for girls 18 and younger. The junior membership includes all the resources available to adults free of charge.
They must be doing something right because the first Girls in Aviation Day in 2015 welcomed about 3200 girls. This event has grown by leaps and bounds to its current participation of over 16,000! Many girls were introduced to pilot training and the fantastic career trajectory possible when you work hard and keep your passion alive. I wish them all well in their journey to the sky and beyond!