EAA WomenVenture Highlights Female Aviation Leaders

Former US Air Force pilots Heather Penney and Allison Black at the EAA WomenVenture Power Lunch. Pia Bergqvist

Wednesday, July 28, at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was filled with inspiring activities highlighting women in various aviation roles. EAA WomenVenture is an annual event held in partnership with Women in Aviation International that aims to build camaraderie, celebrate the joy of aviation and help build mentor relationships.

Wednesday’s show kicked off with the WAI Connect breakfast at the EAA PHP tent. The event highlighted two women who work for the Orbis Flying Hospital: Cyndi Berwyn, a captain of the Orbis MD-10, and Valerie Suberg, senior manager of aircraft maintenance. Berwyn and Suberg are both former FedEx employees who now support Orbis, and they shared touching stories from around the world from patients who, thanks to the flying eye hospital, were able to see for the first time in their lives. If you can’t come to Boeing Plaza to see the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital for yourself, you can tour the massive airplane here.

The EAA WomenVenture Power Lunch, held at the Theatre in the Woods, was hosted by Heather “Lucky” Penney, whose exceptional tenure in the US Air Force includes a renowned flight during the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. Penney introduced another extraordinary Air Force pilot—Colonel Allison Black of the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Black’s tenure included more than 2,000 combat hours in the AC-130H Spectre gunship and U-28A Draco. Black shared heart pumping stories from her time in Afghanistan, where she became known as the “Angel of Death.”

WomenVenture 2021 was scheduled to conclude with an evening panel discussion at the Theatre in the Woods themed Celebrating Those Who Break Boundaries. However, due to an extreme weather forecast, the event was canceled.

Traditionally, hundreds of women gather at the Boeing Plaza for a WomenVenture group picture. Special t-shirts are designed each year and handed out for free to those who want to participate. You might still be able to pick up a t-shirt at the WAI booth, B-2041. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WomenVenture created a different plan. Attendees in support of women in the aviation industry are encouraged to wear the t-shirt, take a selfie and send it to 920-282-2747. The image will be framed with a special WomenVenture 2021 frame. The framed image will be returned to the sender and used in a WomenVenture 2021 collage that can be downloaded after the show.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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