A Glimpse of Girls in Aviation Day 2017: ALPA Members Step Up to Lead & Inspire Future Female Pilots

On September 23, Women in Aviation International (WAI) chapters around the world held events to celebrate Girls in Aviation Day 2017. ALPA members were enthusiastic about pitching in to help with this important initiative to ignite girls’ enthusiasm for the aviation industry. Through its Education Committee, ALPA coordinated with WAI and provided informational materials to support local efforts. Pilot volunteers also participated in several different events to connect with young girls and inspire them to consider careers as professional airline pilots.

Some of the ALPA pilots who participated in Girls in Aviation Day events share their experiences, in their own words:

First Officer Sara Wilson (Alaska)

F/O Sara Wilson participated in a Girls Aviation Day event in St. Louis through the WAI Women with Wings chapter. “Girls in Aviation Day is the absolute perfect venue to be able to speak with girls about careers in aviation, and just ignite their enthusiasm in an area of interest they either haven't thought about or get overshadowed by boys,” Wilson said. “It's so important for girls to see women doing the job that these girls are interested in, in order to know that they can do it too. It's such a powerful, meaningful visual to see a women in a pilot's uniform and have her tell you that you can be a pilot too.” In addition to attending a Girls in Aviation Day event, Wilson recommends the Cleared to Dream website for girls who are interested in a career in aviation. “Many students and parents don't know how to go about becoming pilots. That's why the Education Committee spent so much time developing the Cleared To Dream website, and attend these aviation functions in communities, in order to give students the information and resources to take the next steps towards becoming a pilot.”

First Officer Kaori Paris (United)

According to F/O Kaori Paris, it is essential to empower girls in order to help point them toward a future in aviation. “It is important for girls to connect with other girls who have the same goal of a career in aviation some day, and also to learn about the profession and the resources available if they choose to pursue this career path,” Paris said. “It was personally important to me to have my daughter's Girl Scout group participate in an event where I can share my own experiences as a female airline pilot. We have a lot less girls pursuing the career than boys, and I want to keep on sending the same message--girls can do it!”

First Officer Andrea Weeks (United)

F/O Andrea Weeks is vice president of the Atlanta "Gone with the Wind" Chapter of WAI. Weeks coordinated 70 volunteers for this year’s event at the Delta Air Lines Museum. Over 260 girls attended the event for free, thanks to the chapter’s ability to raise enough sponsorship to cover all guests and chaperones. Girls in attendance participated in nearly 20 activities, learning about subjects such as the four forces of flight, the aviation alphabet, aviation weather, flight training checklists, maintenance bracelets, sectional scavenger hunt, drones, aircraft preflight, aircraft marshalling, and parachute drops. “Events like Girls in Aviation Day are important for girls to see someone who looks like them doing something they have been told is a job for men,” Weeks said.

First Officer Maureen Hallacy (United)

F/O Hallacy has been an ALPA pilot for 17 years, and a WAI member for 20 years. Hallacy inspired 95 attendees at a Girls in Aviation Day event which took place at Lewis University through her local Chicago Chapter of WAI. Girls in attendance at the event rotated through five different workshops throughout the day. Hallacy is shown here at a 737 and with two young ladies in a Westwind aircraft. 

“Girls in Aviation Day is an important event that gives visibility to aviation career paths for young women,” Hallacy said. “This experience provides the opportunity for attendees to interact with women in a broad range of aviation professions. The goal is to bring awareness of these fields and provide guidance on how to successfully pursue them.”

Captain Andrew Schliep (Jazz)

Also on September 23, captains Isabelle Caron, Anne Sophie Dansereau, and Andrew Schliep (all with Jazz) volunteered at the Montreal Aviation Museum's Pink Aviation Day as a way of “inspiring future generations of women in aviation,” said Schliep. “We met one-on-one with youth, exposing them to flying in general, ALPA and Jazz, and most importantly, the very rewarding career of piloting.”

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s Girls in Aviation Day. We’re already excited for next year! Check out our photo gallery.

Categories: Industry


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