'Sea of lavender': Women pilots gather for WomenVenture

July 31, 2009

WomenVentureHundreds of women pilots gathered Friday, July 31, at EAA AirVenture to celebrate the second annual WomenVenture.

Wearing lavender T-shirts, the women assembled under a crystal-blue sky for a group photo and waved and cheered. Standing in the front row were several members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). President Barack Obama on July 1 signed into law a bill to award the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.

WomenVenture is jointly sponsored by Women in Aviation International (WAI) and the Experimental Aircraft Association. The daylong event, first held at AirVenture in 2008, was so popular that WAI ordered twice as many shirts for this year, according to WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. The theme of WomenVenture continues throughout Friday with a 3 p.m. all-women airshow—a first for AirVenture. Performers include Julie Clark, Debby Rihn-Harvey, and Patty Wagstaff. An evening Theater in the Woods program will feature NASA Space Shuttle Commander Eileen Collins; U.S. Air Force Maj. Jill Long, who has flown more than 50 combat missions; and inspirational speaker Jessica Cox.

AOPA to form WAI chapter

Building on a collaborative agreement with WAI announced July 30, AOPA will form its own WAI chapter, AOPA Public Relations Director Jennifer Storm said at the start of Friday’s WomenVenture events.

WomenVentureAOPA’s chapter will join more than 6,000 men and women who belong to WAI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests. The AOPA chapter will be the first corporate chapter in WAI’s history, said Betty Huck, chapter relations. It’s a great opportunity for AOPA employees, who include both pilots and nonpilots, to learn more about aviation, she said. Huck said she hopes other corporations will follow AOPA’s lead in establishing their own WAI chapters.