Massive Recruitment Effort at WAI Girls in Aviation Day

Attendees at the Cleveland Girls in Aviation Day event with a business jet that was available to tour. WAI/Cleveland

With women still only making up approximately seven percent of the total U.S. pilot population, Women in Aviation International's (WAI) mission continues to be introducing interested girls age 8-17 to what is possible should they choose aviation and aerospace as a career path.

To present the industry to girls worldwide, WAI held their Girls in Aviation Day 2019 events on October 5, with approximately 20,000 attendees reached at 118 individual events in the U.S. and 17 other countries. At the events, girls met aviation role models, attended career panels and explored airplanes and airports. Fun, hands-on activities ranging from a sectional chart treasure hunt to making jewelry using A&P tools kept attendees entertained.

“Our primary goal is to introduce girls to all the career opportunities aviation and aerospace offer,” says WAI Outreach Director Molly Martin. “We go beyond piloting careers to include air traffic controllers, mechanics, engineers, technicians and designers. It’s difficult to describe the enthusiasm these girls show for aviation, many of whom have never touched or ridden in an aircraft. Girls in Aviation Day definitely changes lives—we’re sure of that.”

A young girl at the WAI Girls in Aviation Day event in Nashville tries on an aviation headset. WAI/Nashville

According to FAA’s Aeronautical Center data from 2017 presented on the WAI website, 42,694 of the 609,306 U.S. pilots are women. Of that group, 6,994 women hold airline transport pilot certificates and 7,105 were flight instructors.

Martin added that some girls in attendance asked blunt questions. “Standing in front of a corporate jet, the adult asked a group of girls if any of them knew what makes an airplane fly. One girl tentatively guessed, ‘Money?’ No doubt this was from a girl with aviation in her family,” Martin said.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University assisted in Girls in Aviation Day by presenting an online virtual event, and United Airlines hosted events at 11 United locations in the United States and six European locations.

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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