Opening skies to women

February 23, 2011

To celebrate Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, March 7 through 13, the aviation community will showcase its female members and welcome newcomers with first flights, contests, and more.

“The women of the past cracked the doors open; we intend to open them wide,” said international organizer Mireille Goyer. There are fewer women flying today—approximately 35,000, including those with student pilot certificates—than there were 15 years ago in spite of the fact that the number of women living in the United States has increased 30 percent during the same period, she said.

The initiative stems from the observation that there is currently very little industry effort to market flying to potential female customers, and the industry’s image is not women-friendly, she said.

It is also a continuation of the Fly It Forward campaign created to celebrate the 2010 Centennial of Women Pilots, Goyer said. That yearlong event culminated in more than 1,600 introductory flights for women conducted in 26 countries.

Pilots, flight schools, and others that register on the website can qualify for prizes and recognition for categories such as Most Unusual Introductory Flight, Most Supportive Male Flight Instructor, and Most Dedicated Female Pilot.

AOPA is a sponsor of the event and has provided funding for the trophies as well as three cash prizes through a random drawing opened to pilots who introduce five or more girls or women to aviation during Women of Aviation Worldwide Week. The first woman to solo after taking her first flight during the week will receive a watch from AOPA, as will the winners of the Most Dedicated Woman Pilot Worldwide and the Most Supportive Male Pilot Worldwide awards.

AOPA’s home airport, Frederick Municipal Airport, will host first flights, guest speakers, and other events on March 12. Organizer Victoria Neuville said she hopes 300 women and girls will come to the airport to take flights. To register for a flight, see the website. Volunteers are needed to take passengers for rides and assist with ground operations; contact Neuville by email.