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Women in Aviation conference matures

Students represent AOPA Flight Training at Women in Aviation conference
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Laurie Jessup, left, and Karlie Beth Buntin

For many years, AOPA Flight Training has sponsored scholarships that allow two deserving students to attend the International Women in Aviation conference. Today Karlie Beth Buntin and Laurie Jessup are attending seminars and working in the magazine's booth on the last day of the sixteenth annual conference, which is being held in Dallas. Buntin started flying at age 18 while attending Western Oklahoma State College and is now a senior at Oklahoma State University; she plans to obtain flight instructor and airframe and powerplant certificates as well as an MBA, and eventually would like to own her own flight school and maintenance shop. The aviation bug bit Jessup when she discovered hang gliding while pursuing a nonaviation degree and is now studying aviation maintenance at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wisconsin. An enthusiastic student pilot, she would like to work as an A&P and flight instructor, possibly in Alaska. Application for the AOPA Flight Training scholarship is through Women in Aviation, International; forms are available on the WAI Web site in the fall.

The 16th annual Women in Aviation conference wrapped up Saturday in Dallas, Texas, and solidified the organization's worth as a networking and alliance-building facilitator for women and men in the aviation industry, and the conference's position as a vital part of that process.

The conference showcased prominent women - past, present, and future - across the aviation industry, with a strong focus on women in general aviation. Keynote speakers included Mooney Airplane Company CEO Gretchen Jahn and airshow performer and Edge pilot Chandy Clanton.

Aviation humorist and AOPA Flight Training contributor Ralph Hood also was on hand for educational sessions and to deliver a keynote speech.

Prior to the conference, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation presented a flight instructor refresher clinic at the conference hotel for any CFI seeking certificate renewal.

NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman Connors addressed a luncheon, and Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, addressed the closing banquet with remarks on the present state and future of the aviation industry.

Scholarships totaling more than $500,000 were given to up-and-coming women and men in a range of aviation fields, including funds for initial flight training and tailwheel and seaplane transition training.

The 2006 conference is scheduled for March 23 through 25, in Nashville, Tennessee. For more, see the Web site.

March 15, 2005

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