EAA President Rod Hightower underscored the message of “Bring Your Daughter to the Conference” by bringing three of his four daughters to the Women in Aviation International conference in Dallas, March 8 through 10.
EAA’s Young Eagles program will celebrate 20 years this year, Hightower said. The program has flown 1.6 million young people between the ages of 8 and 17 since its inception.
Thirty percent of those 1.6 million Young Eagles have been females, Hightower said. “In the course of the last 20 years, we have created 18,800 certificated pilots,” he said. Just over 9 percent of those are female. “We’re moving the needle on female aviators and we’re very proud of it,” he said.
Empowering the future is what EAA is all about, Hightower said. “Empowering other women and especially young people to follow their dreams and pursue their passion is the core of EAA.” He listed some of the association’s initiatives:
- Air Academy—The event brings more than 400 young people ages 12 to 18 to Oshkosh, Wis., yearly to expose them all aspects of aviation. “When I meet people in their 30s and late 20s who have been to Air Academy, they use words like ‘it profoundly impacted my life. It changed me in ways I wasn’t expecting,’” Hightower said.
- Women Soar—A yearly program that pairs high-school-age young women with mentors and exposes them to aviation businesses in and around Fox Valley. The program is held in conjunction with EAA AirVenture.
- WomenVenture—The annual gathering of women pilots for a group photo at AirVenture.
- Scholarships totaling more than $300,000 for flight training maintenance training or other initiatives.
- AirVenture—The world’s largest membership convention is also the world’s largest GA marketplace and has become the world’s largest airshow, Hightower said. “We’re reachin’ out to people and inspiring and sharing the message of aviation,” he said. This year’s event will celebrate the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen and mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Piper Cub, he said.