ALPA Inspires Future Aviators at Girls in Aviation Day

Over the weekend, September 24 marked a successful day for the future of aviation, as young people all around the world came together for Girls in Aviation Day events. Hosted by local chapters of Women in Aviation International (WAI), these annual events are designed specifically to inspire and encourage young women ages 8 to 17 to pursue and celebrate their flight dreams, and many ALPA members were actively involved in events in their communities.

(Photo by: Carmen Zabel)

United Airlines First Officer Stefanie Sun was delighted to participate in a San Francisco event, while ALPA Education Committee member, Jessica Englund, spoke to girls in St. Paul, Minnesota about how to become a pilot. She also provided information on ALPA clubs at various colleges.“I told one little girl how I flew by the Washington Monument this past week. Her face lit up and she asked if I met the President,” Englund said.

United Airlines First Officer Audrey Maddox helped to inspire young women in Vancouver, Wash. According to Maddox, the day served to inform not just students, but also their parents of the career opportunities available to women in our industry. “Girls in Aviation Day is a day when we can plant an idea of aviation careers in young minds,” Maddox said. “If the girls don’t know it’s an option as a career, they likely won’t pursue it. We plant the idea before they make it to college so that they can then search for education related to aviation career fields. The ladies who attended Girls in Aviation Day learned they can have a career in aviation, and hopefully their parents did, too.”

Maddox stresses that aviation careers tend to be handed down generationally, so it is especially important to attract young women who don’t have family members in the industry. “We are here to inspire these young ladies without aviation in the family and let them know it is absolutely an option,” she said.

In addition to local chapters, corporate members also hosted Girls in Aviation Day events:

  • Tours and Q&A sessions at O’Hare International Airport, hosted by United Airlines and uIMPACT, United’s Women’s Business Resource Group.
  • Tours and hands-on learning experiences at San Francisco International Airport, hosted by United Airlines’ uIMPACT-Western Chapter.
  • In-depth learning experiences, including the chance to fly simulators in pilot and copilot teams, hosted by the National Flight Academy.

(Photo by: Carmen Zabel)

Sporty’s Pilot Shop joined the initiative by producing a sectional training chart just for Girls in Aviation Day. Participants in this year’s Girls in Aviation Day were also provided a DVD on helicopter careers produced by the Helicopter Association International, as well as an all-new hands-on rotary-wing activity, both of which were made possible by an $8,000 grant from Bell Helicopter.

(Photo by ALPA member Alexei Tsekoun)

While Girls in Aviation Day activities took place all around the world, both young men and women were inspired by Dr. Anna Serbinenko, who taught the importance of aviation careers to a group of middle school students at the California International Airshow, held at the Salinas airport in California. Dr. Serbinenko gave a motivational speech, which was organized by NASA, in both English and Spanish to stress the importance of education, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, aka “STEM,” fields. “Dream big,” she told students. “If your goal doesn’t scare you, set a bigger goal."

For more information about how ALPA inspires young people to pursue careers in aviation, please visit:

Catch up on the fun from Girls in Aviation Day on social media by searching #GIAD16.

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