April 11, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
The efforts of 22 pilots and numerous volunteers to introduce 185 girls and women to aviation on March 12 have earned the Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md., the title of Most Female Friendly Airport in the World for 2011 by the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week organization.
The day’s activities celebrated 2011 Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, and set a record for the number of girls and women introduced to flying in one day at a single location, said the sponsoring organization, Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, in a news release. The annual observance aims to raise awareness about opportunities available to women in the aviation industry. It takes place each year during the week of March 8, on which International Women’s Day is observed.
In all, pilots on three continents introduced 707 girls and women to the joys of flying from March 7 through 13, and many more learned about the organization.
AOPA reported on March 16 that the Frederick event was organized by instrument-rated private pilot Victoria Neuville, who said that she wanted to ensure that girls and women feel welcome at the airport. Neuville’s efforts to expand aviation horizons for women were profiled in the April 2011 issue of AOPA Pilot.
Even before the gates opened at the Frederick event, it was clear that enthusiasm for the invitation to come out and fly was running high, with prospective passengers lining up before the 10:30 a.m. start time.
“It opened up a whole new world that I hadn't considered before," said Dianne Christensen of Frederick.
AOPA, which is headquartered at the Frederick airport, was a sponsor of the local event, and is a sponsor of the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.
The Women of Aviation Worldwide Week organization honored other initiatives as well. Dianna Stanger of Port Lavaca, Texas, won the title of Most Dedicated Female Pilot in the World, using her Eurocopter EC120 to introduce 98 girls and women to flying. Laith Barnhill of Arlington, Wash., won the Most Supportive Male Pilot in the World title. Canadian pilot Cathy Montgomery of Peterborough, Ontario, flew her open cockpit Trike in minus-2-degrees-Celsius temperatures to earn the title of Most Dedicated Female Flight Instructor in the World. Casey Cowan braved rainy weather in Arlington, Wash., and earned the title of Most Supportive Male Flight Instructor in the World. Jasmine Gordon of Port Lavaca, Texas, took the opportunity to give back to her community by inviting volunteers of local nonprofit organizations to enjoy a free first flight, earning the Most Creative Aviation Advocate title.
Ciara Thompson of Kpong, Ghana, won the writing contest prize. Sarah Higgins of Edina, Minn., won in the art contest, and Terri Donner of Fishersville, Ky., submitted the winning photo.
Next year’s observance will have a seaplane theme to mark two centennials: Helene Dutrieu of Belgium became the first woman to pilot a seaplane, and American pilot Harriet Quimby flew across the English Channel, said the announcement.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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