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Five tips on marketing flight training to womenFive tips on marketing flight training to women

Your largest untapped market is waiting for you to make them feel welcome

Women have always been a big part of aviation. Some pioneered alongside the Wright brothers. Others set records for distance and speed. Still others ferried warbirds and risked it all in defense of our nation. Today's female pilots fly transports, fighter jets, airlines, charters, and teach others their craft (many say women make the best flight instructors, by far). Still, when you walk into flight schools across the world the vast majority of people mingling in the halls or hunched over iPads and laptops are men.

Despite the great contributions women have made to aviation, many still consider flying to be a guy thing. Flight school lobbies are often decorated with masculine images—posters of fighter jets with afterburners ablaze, high fives, button-up white shirts and epaulets, posters of seemingly complicated jet panels. The only thing missing is the testosterone-scented air freshener. Imagine, for a moment, your wife or daughter going into a typical flight school to get information on flight training. Would she feel welcome? Odds are, maybe not.

There's no secret to marketing your training services to women. It's pretty simple. Just make them feel, on their first contact with your school or club, that they are welcome and not alone. Don't make women have to look past tough-guy imagery on your website and print media. Try to avoid boisterous guy-talk in the hallways.

Here are five things you can do to present a more female-friendly environment:

  1. Feature images of women and airplanes in all your media. Show women flying, teaching, studying, and passing checkrides. Do this for everything, from your website and Facebook page to newspaper and magazine advertising.
  2. Make sure your facilities (especially the bathrooms) are clean and fresh-smelling. Don't let clutter accumulate, and put a squeegie to the windows once in a while. Vacuum carpeted areas daily and make sure hard-surfaced floors are clean and polished. Decorate with some greenery. Been to a nice FBO, like Signature or Atlantic, lately? Copy them. They've got it going on.
  3. If you have a female CFI on staff, train her to conduct tours of your facilities. Have prospective students see a successful female aviator, and have her explain just what it takes to become a pilot. Remember, the women visiting your school or club to learn about flying are not snowflakes; they are most likely professionally successful, educated, and adventurous people who want to learn to fly for the same reasons the guys do. All they need is to feel comfortable and to trust you.
  4. Be sure to explain the career opportunities available to pilots. All sectors of the aviation world are welcoming to women as never before. Put magazines in the lobby showing female airline pilots, facilities managers, and flight school owners. Talk to women about the Ninety-Nines and give them a brochure. Show them that they are not pioneers and will not be alone, and that they are not only welcome in aviation, but also deeply appreciated.
  5. Host a Learn to Fly Open House that focuses on women. Serve light snacks and beverages, and feature a female pilot as a keynote speaker or master of ceremonies. Provide a tour of your beautiful facilities and aircraft, and offer discounted introductory flights for those who want to see if flying is really for them.


Research tells us that men tend to be task-oriented consumers. They often see their goal of learning to fly as a task, and the straightest line between deciding to go to flight school and getting a pilot certificate is often the deciding factor in choosing a training provider. That’s not always the case with women, who often view the shopping and selection process as a journey of discovery rather than a just a task to be completed. Flight training may be seen as an adventure unto itself—an exciting time of learning and excitement, opening doors to a new world of fun and adventure. Flight school owners should take heed of these differences and tailor their marketing messages and environments accordingly.

Above all, marketing to women should not pander or patronize. Your female students will be every bit as focused and driven as their male counterparts, and they will demand solid value for their aviation dollar. A growing female flight student market creates serious opportunities, important not only as a dynamic new customer base for your school, but also as a vital source of new blood and fresh ideas for an industry many would agree is sorely in need of both.

William Woodbury is a flight instructor and freelance writer in Southern California. 

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