Women in Aviation Opens 21st Conference

The event features speakers, scholarships, and recruitment for the industry.

The 31st Women in Aviation International Conference opened March 5, 2020, in Orlando, Florida, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. The event features speakers, scholarships, and recruitment for the aviation industry.

The opening general session on Friday will kick off with Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the US Air Force, followed by Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and chief engineer of Boeing Global Services division. Col. Eileen Collins, NASA astronaut and the first woman to pilot a space shuttle mission, speaks at the luncheon on Friday, and Saturday’s sessions begin with Stephanie Chung, JetSuite president, followed by Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service, and wrapped by Amber Smith, combat helicopter pilot.

Though travel warnings have begun in light of COVID-19, conference organizers have worked with event hosts Walt Disney World to create an atmosphere conducive to maintaining high levels of safety while allowing the popular event to proceed. As of the prior weekend, roughly 4,500 attendees had signed up, with only a handful of cancellations from exhibitors in the wake of company travel restrictions.

Earlier in the week, on March 2, WAI announced a partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University that it would debut a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), titled “Aviation Is Your Future,” aimed at girls aged 8 to 17 to expose them to aviation subjects. Within the course, students will learn aviation terminology, identify the parts of an airplane, explore flight characteristics of a helicopter, and discuss space exploration goals. There are hands-on activities prompted by the course, as well as level-by-level progression. A person needs to be at least 13 years old to sign up on their own, or have a parent or guardian register them for the course. Registration is already open.