This past week something happened that is vital to the advancement of women in professional and general aviation. Women in Aviation International started an initiative earlier this year that helped make September 26th, 2015 officially "Girls in Aviation Day." The idea is a spin-off of their Girls in Aviation day held during their annual WAI conferences. The event focuses on introducing girls between ages 8 and 16 years old to aviation and involving them in various learning opportunities.
The ultimate goal of Girls in Aviation day is to help the next generation of young women to consider aviation as a future career choice. In my personal experience, many young girls simply do not see aviation as a field that they have the option to get into. The common image of a pilot presented in the media is usually a male. Having a day like this that raises the awareness of the general public about women in aviation can have a huge impact on how many girls decide to go into aviation in the future.
A large majority of U.S. and international chapters of Women in Aviation International hosted events in their hometowns for the big day. Activities put on by different chapters ranged from an airport tour with static displays to a hands-on experience learning what is involved in creating a flight plan. Several chapters also hosted presentations by women in a variety of fields in aviation. WAI provided the participating chapters with gift bags and informational packets to hand out to the girls. Additionally, a total of 29 states and two cities released official proclamations naming September 26th as Girls in Aviation Day.
A few aviation museums got in on the fun as well. The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada hosted hundreds of girls, and guided them through "career stations" highlighting different paths such as ATC, maintenance, airport operational manager, flight attendant, and several others.
Another meaningful event that happened on Girls in Aviation Day is that Delta flight 8877 – call sign WING 1 (Women Inspiring our Next Generation) operated with an entirely female crew chartering more than 130 young girls to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA for a day of learning about aviation career opportunities. Originating in Minneapolis, WING 1 was the airline’s first-ever all-female charter flight. It is so encouraging to see huge companies really caring about their employees, and many girls who flew on WING 1 reported feeling inspired and amazed at how they saw women were capable of doing any job related to flying.
The all-female Delta flight WING 1 - "Women Inspiring our Next Generation."
The global initiative of promoting women in aviation has certainly been gaining traction in the last several years. As more jobs are opening up in general, the increased demand for qualified and passionate pilots could definitely use a healthy dose of girl power. With programs like this and organizations such as the Ninety-Nines and Women in Corporate Aviation actively recruiting more ladies, the outlook for future increase in female pilots looks very promising.
A few years back when I first began looking into aviation seriously as a career I had no idea how many great opportunities were out there. There is an entire generation of female pilots that want to encourage, support, and mentor as many young ladies as they can. I am incredibly excited to see what the future holds for women in aviation, and I hope that through pursuing professional aviation training I can someday be a mentor or role model to a girl who has aspirations to join such a challenging and exciting field of work.