Inspiring Aviation Documentary ‘Fly Like A Girl’ Now Streaming

Shaesta Waiz was interviewed for the film at the hangar in Daytona Beach where she returned after her 2017 flight around the world. Indie Atlantic Films

According to Women in Aviation International (WAI), data from the FAA’s Aeronautical Center for December 31, 2019, showed 664,565 pilots, of which 52,740 were female—or 7.9 percent of the total pilot population in the United States. That is up from the 5.69 percent of pilots that were women in 2000, and with a little more than 50 percent of the total US population being female, the number of women flying remains astoundingly low.

Female pilot growth of just 2.21 percent in 19 years is an abysmal record, and building this number up has been a Holy Grail for the aviation industry for decades. To counter this shockingly slow growth, Indie Atlantic Films of Lakeland, Florida, recently released their feature-length documentary Fly Like A Girl, a project that took about three years to make from first interview until completion, according to executive producer Matt Wiatt.

Fly Like A Girl dives deep into the topic of genderless flight, and it’s a joy to watch from the first few frames. Director Katie McEntire Wiatt brought together a stunning cast of strong, successful women who have succeeded in aviation, all to make a point that, hopefully, the project will be seen as a documentary that can make a difference.

Fly Like A Girl is more than just a film. It’s a movement of young girls and women relentlessly pursuing their passion for aviation, a field currently dominated by men,” the film’s longline said. “Hearing first-hand stories from girls and women who dared to aim higher—from a Lego-loving young girl who includes female pilots in her toy airplanes, to a courageous woman who helped lead shuttle missions to space, Fly Like A Girl shows us that women are in charge of their own destiny.”

McEntire Wiatt said she was inspired ten years ago when she first saw aerobatic superstar Patty Wagstaff fly in an airshow. “It was my first time hearing the name Patty Wagstaff,” McEntire Wiatt said, “and I was blown away by her skill and fearlessness. I immediately went home and began to research more about Patty and other female aviators. I was dismayed that I did not know more about these remarkable women. I became fascinated by the subject. I read a variety of books on historic female aviators, went to lectures and talks from women leaders in the STEM and aviation world, watched documentaries, and went to aviation museums.”

The crew interviews Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center. Michael Seeley

A former elementary educator, McEntire Wiatt said it was during her time as a primary school teacher that she first developed the idea for Fly Like A Girl. “I saw first-hand the gap in confidence young female students felt in the classroom, especially in relation to STEM subjects. A recent study in Science Magazine found that young girls are less likely to think their gender is smart. Women make up half of the college-educated workforce, yet they are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. Studies have shown that to change this narrative, it is crucial that girls and women see people like themselves achieving great things in their fields,” she said.

As a filmmaker, McEntire Wiatt says she always wanted to make a documentary, and is hoping the feature-length film will bring to light the extraordinary stories of women in aviation and space exploration. “It was my goal to have a diverse cast so that girls and women could see themselves reflected in the women on screen. It is my hope that by sharing their stories, I can play a small role in helping to change how young girls and women perceive themselves as well as inspire and educate others about the incredible women of the aviation world,” the director said.

From beginning to end, the documentary presents successful women aviation in their own words. Interviews include Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth; The Mars Generation founder Abby Harrison; 11-year-old inspired future aviator Afton Kinkade; Wagstaff; Abingdon Mullin, pilot and owner of The Abingdon Aviation Watch Co.; Shaesta Waiz, the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft; former U.S.M.C. officer and aviator Vernice Armour; former WASP Bee Haydu and others.

“As a female pilot and aspiring astronaut,” Harrison said, “I’m so excited that Fly Like A Girl exists and am proud to be a part of it. I believe that this film will show kids growing up today—both girls and boys—that aviation is, in fact, a place for girls and women. It was a phenomenal experience to be interviewed for the film at Kennedy Space Center under Space Shuttle Atlantis while being interviewed about my journey towards becoming an astronaut. The filming happened after hours, which meant we had the place to ourselves. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.”

Fly Like A Girl enjoyed success on the 2019 film festival circuit, where it won the DOXX Spotlight at Tallgrass Film Festival (Wichita, Kansas), Edison Award of Innovation - Fort Myers Film Festival (Ft. Myers, Florida), and Best Feature Documentary - Hot Springs International Women’s Film Festival (Hot Springs, Arkansas). The documentary also played to sold-out screenings at festivals across the US.

Fly Like A Girl is available now for streaming on all major services including the iTunes and Google Play stores, Amazon Prime Video, Fandango Now, VUDU, Youtube, Playstation, and Vimeo On Demand.

Dan Pimentel is an instrument-rated private pilot and former airplane owner who has been flying since 1996. As an aviation journalist and photographer, he has covered all aspects of the general and business aviation communities for a long list of major aviation magazines, newspapers and websites. He has never met a flying machine that he didn’t like, and has written about his love of aviation for years on his Airplanista blog. For 10 years until 2019, he hosted the popular ‘Oshbash’ social media meetup events at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

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