The twentieth annual Women in Aviation conference is under way in Atlanta, and association officials are using the word “thousands” to describe the number of attendees. You wouldn’t be surprised—there do appear to be thousands of attendees, mostly women, giving the notion that aviation is on a downturn a run for its money.
Of course the WAI conference is a great spot for networking and job seekers, so that contributes to attendance, but the enthusiasm for aviation here is palpable. Jessica Cox, the first woman without arms to earn a private pilot certificate, was among the inspirational speakers at the conference’s general session on Feb. 27. Her speech, amusingly titled “Disarming the Impossible,” was well received, and she is a sought-out sort of celebrity on the exhibit floor. Standing just five feet, one inch, Cox is a diminutive figure who claims that one of her biggest challenges in learning to fly was not her lack of limbs, but remembering the seat cushion in the aircraft.
“Inspiring” is another word for what is taking place at the WAI conference. On Friday morning numerous scholarships were awarded to young women ranging in age from a high school student who earns her money to fly by working at Joann Fabrics fulltime while attending school, to a recent college graduate whose desire is to become a corporate pilot.