The Central Florida Chapter of Women in Aviation International (WAI) recently hosted a “Girls in Aviation Day” event in conjunction with other chapters from around the world at Orlando International Airport to provide young women from Orlando-area high schools the opportunity to learn about the many career fields available in the growing aviation industry.
The free event, attended by 40 girls in grades 9 - 12, was a team effort sponsored by United Airlines, Silver Airways, Flight Training Professionals and Sheltair, along with participating partners, including the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority K-9 Team, Wildlife Control and Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters, Archer First Response Systems, Signature Flight Support Orlando, National Aviation Academy and Wings Financial Credit Union.
“It was truly an honor to participate in ‘Girls in Aviation Day’ with our valued industry partners in the Orlando area and give young women the opportunity to learn about and experience the vast array of aviation career opportunities that are available to them,” said Silver Airways flight crew member Donna Hendrickson who started her aviation career as a flight attendant and is now a pilot. “As the air transport industry continues to grow, we want to inspire young women to pursue their passion for aviation and instill the confidence that anything is possible when you pursue your dreams.”
“We are extremely grateful for all of the support we received from the Central Florida community, including Archer First Response Systems, Entenmann's, Flight Training Professionals, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, National Aviation Academy, Orlando International Airport Fire-Rescue, Sheltair Aviation, Silver Airways, United Airlines, Wings Federal Credit Union and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron,” said WAI Treasurer Central Florida Chapter Laurel Ross. “Our hope is that the girls we reached this weekend will go on and make big differences in the aviation and aerospace industries.”
“Today was inspirational, motivational and energizing – thank you,” said Anna Perrin, Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant and one of WAI’s Central Florida Chapter’s newest members. “All your hard work made the event possible and seeing the support and admiration everyone shared with each other. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful organization. I saw dreams come alive in those young women today and being able to share my love for aviation with strong accomplished women was phenomenal."
During the full-day event, the young women had the opportunity to meet and talk with women in many aviation career fields and participate in various aviation-themed presentations, including:
- Flight Training Professionals – Principles of Flight with Maggie Broman from CFI;
- Archer First Response Systems’ Gordon Folkes demonstrated using drones and life-saving technology;
- A military briefing with KC-135 Stratotanker Captain Ilma Calite from MacDill Air Force Base’s 91st Air Refueling Squadron who discussed her career path from Air Force cook to Air Force Captain through the Air Force Academy and the girls had the opportunity to try on a “G” suit and helmet;
- Greater Orlando Aviation Authority K-9 Team performed live demonstrations on a United 737-800;
- Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Wildlife Control Officers demonstrated their techniques;
- United Airlines’ maintenance led a rivet project in which the girls squeezed rivets into an aluminum disc and engraved their name on it;
- United Captain Pamela Perdue, who flies Boeing 757s and 767s, shared how she started and advanced her aviation career;
- National Aviation Academy offered educational material and hands-on displays;
- Signature Flight Support Regional Customer Service Experience Manager Kalee Schnelzer talked about fixed-based operator operations and services;
- Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters provided a tour of their new tower truck T-88 and crash truck 84;
- Silver Airways introduced the newest addition to its fleet – the ATR 600 – with its new pink flamingo livery;
- Three young women won round-trip tickets from Silver Airways, including Chantel Chenard (Timbercreek High School), Stephany Gonzalez (Timbercreek High School), and Valentina Salazar-Diaz (Bishop Moore High School).
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