A Broad Mix of Age Groups And Proactive Outreach Are Hallmarks of WAI Events
By Maxine Scheer
WAI takes a proactive and positive role in attracting and welcoming women to AirVenture through its ongoing collaboration with EAA and other organizations.
At AirVenture 2012, WAI members and others from organizations such as the 99's participated as mentors in "Women Soar You Soar." The program has grown, and estimated 100 young women were introduced to a variety of careers in aviation through facilitated activities at AirVenture. Applications are accepted through June of each year, and for $75, the young women are provided lodging, meals, hands-on activities, and the experience of AirVenture. Scholarships to cover registration fees are also available.
"Women Venture" is another example of WAI's presence at AirVenture. It started in 2008, and the first 4 events invited women pilots for a group photo. This year, all women who are active in aviation gathered together on Phillips 66 Plaza in bright orange shirts for the photo shoot. The group honored members of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs).
On Friday morning, at the EAA Nature Center, an estimated three hundred women attended the annual WAI Connect Breakfast and welcomed Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The young women from "Women Soar You Soar" also filled the room with excitement about their AirVenture experience.
Dr. Peggy Chabrian announced new scholarships for the 2013 WAI Conference, March 13-17, 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. An estimated 3,000 participants representing various segments of the aviation industry are expected to attend the three-day event. "I expect the total available scholarships in 2013 to exceed 2012," Chabrian said, as she held up posters to be distributed at various colleges and aviation education centers this year. At the 2012 WAI Conference, 85 scholarships were awarded, totaling $560,000.
Helicopter Association International (HAI) reaffirmed its commitment to the WAI Conference in 2013 as Karen Gebhart, VP Business Development & Expositions, described HAI member interest in recruiting women to fill open positions in the helicopter industry
Sporty's Founder and Chairman Hal Shevers introduced a new scholarship to WAI for a General Aviation Maintenance Professional to pursue pilot training. WAI member, Diane Ballweg, a high-school teacher from Madison, gave a $20,000 endowment to WAI for a scholarship in appreciation for the inspiration WAI gave her over 15 years ago, the aviation career awareness created for her students.
Chabrian encouraged attendees to regularly check the WAI website and submit scholarship applications, as new scholarships would be added between now and March.
When asked about why the WAI Conference is so notably full of energy and excitement, Dr. Chabrian described how a post WAI conference survey revealed that attendees are evenly distributed between five, 10-year age categories, ranging from 19-29 through 59-69. "The mix of all age groups keeps enthusiasm at WAI strong," she said. "Attendees are finding employment at the WAI Conference."
Aviation Education is increasingly important as WAI strengthens youth outreach initiatives. Dr. Chabrian reported that the "Daughter Day" event, introduced at WAI 2012, would be repeated at the 2013 conference. International Programs are also growing. The WAI Chapter in Ghana is introducing more women to "Aviation Technology" through a Fly and Fix program. WAI also signed an MOU with "Learning for Life," to collaborate with an affiliate, the Aviation Explorers program. Peggy noted that out of 77 WAI Chapters, 23 are co-located with Aviation Explorer groups.
EAA members are encouraged to attend the 2013 WAI Conference in Nashville and experience the excitement created by thousands of young women, and young men, who come to WAI to pursue and grow their careers in aviation.
(Pictured Top: Dr. Peggy Chabrian. Center: NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman. Bottom: Sporty's Founder Hal Shevers.)