Women pilot centennial tallies 1,600-plus intro flights

Awards recognize airports, individuals for encouraging women pilots

January 20, 2011

Pilots around the world introduced 1,647 girls and women to flying in 2010, the centennial of the first certificated female pilot, the Centennial of Women Pilots campaign announced.

The intro flights, registered and tracked through the Centennial of Women Pilots website, took place in 29 countries on four continents—in balloons, sailplanes, ultralights, airplanes, floatplanes, and helicopters, the organization said. The site promoted events throughout the year to encourage more women to become pilots by introducing a record number of nonpilot girls and women to flying during the year. Along with the final tally, the campaign announced the winners of awards in four categories: “Most Female-Pilot-Friendly Airport,” “Most Dedicated Woman Pilot,” “Most Supportive Male Pilot,” and “Most Unusual Introductory Flight.”

“The ultimate winners were the hundreds of girls and women who discovered flying thanks to this campaign,” said Centennial of Women Pilots campaign organizer Mireille Goyer. “May they fly forward the gift they received.”

The award to an airport, for the most flights conducted and registered through the site, went to Oshawa Airport in Ontario, Canada, for conducting 475 flights during the year. Renton Municipal Airport in Washington state was runner up, with a total of 407 flights. That airport took top honors for the number of girls and women pilots there introduced to flying in a single day, conducting 173 flights at a December event. Kpong Field in Ghana took third place with 97 flights.

The awards to individuals who conducted the most introductory flights for women and girls went to Amanda Sargent of Seattle, Wash., and Andrei Floroiu of New York City. Sargent, a helicopter pilot and instructor, conducted a total of 119 flights, 67 of them on New Year’s Eve, the campaign announced. Floroiu introduced 157 girls and women to flying as part of his Fly for MS campaign designed to give people with multiple sclerosis “the liberating experience of flying in a small plane.”

The “Most Unusual Introductory Flight” award was given based on votes from registrants on the website. Clark Morawetz of Oshawa, Ontario, took top honors for a flight “that included a marriage proposal that almost went wrong,” with 184 votes. Sharon Tinkler of Tullahoma, Tenn., took a close second, with 183 votes, for a flight introducing her best friend to flying in a Luscombe 11A when the airplane ran into problems with the tachometer.

Raymonde de Laroche of France became the first woman to earn a pilot certificate on March 8, 1910. Harriet Quimby became the first American woman to earn a pilot certificate the following year, on Aug. 1. The anniversary of Laroche’s certificate will be marked this year by Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, March 7 through 13.

Women pilot campaign looks ahead to 2011 events

2011 marks the 100th anniversary of when the first American woman earned a pilot certificate. The Centennial of Women Pilots, which marked 2010 as the centennial of certificated female aviators worldwide, encouraged participants to continue to celebrate women pilots into 2011.

Centennial of Women Pilots campaign organizer Mireille Goyer encouraged participants to participate in “Fly it Forward” events and to continue to focus on taking girls and women flying.

“Suggest to your local museum to offer entrance fee rebates for girls and women during the week and/or hold special exhibits,” she said in an e-mail to participants. “Convince local aviation businesses to showcase their female flight instructors, mechanics, or engineers may be in ‘a-day-at-work’ format. If you are a Woman of Aviation, offer to speak to girls or women groups. If you are a writer, write about the Women of Aviation. And of course, if you are a pilot, put a smile on someone else’s face; introduce a girl or a woman to flying.”

Goyer encouraged pilots to register at the Women of Aviation Community website to connect with others and find out about upcoming events.