A crowd of curious girls flooded the tarmac at Jet Linx Denver at Centennial Airport to explore private aircraft and learn about aviation from women who were once curious onlookers themselves. In partnership with the Mile High chapter of Women in Aviation International, the Jet Linx Denver team hosted nearly 30 young girls with a passion for aviation to celebrate the first annual Girls in Aviation Day, Sept. 24, 2016.
“The day turned out absolutely great thanks to a host of dedicated volunteers and sponsors from all aspects of the aviation industry right here in Denver,” said Lauren Thompson, Jet Linx Denver Lead Client Services Specialist. “The participants had a chance to connect with professional women in the field and to meet other kids their age who share their passion for aviation.”
Volunteers included Jet Linx Denver pilot Kelly Townsend, who was on hand with her Hawker 800XP corporate aircraft. “I had the best job of the day!” she exclaimed. Townsend gave each girl a special look into the aircraft as the groups took turns sitting in the cockpit with her. “They had the opportunity to ask me questions about the airplane, my job, training and aviation in general, and then make an announcement over the PA system to the rest of the group in the back (which I think was their favorite part).”
The day was packed with activities designed to educate and inspire. In addition to time in an aircraft with Townsend, the girls enjoyed sessions on chart reading, the phonetic alphabet and aviation communications, plus a chance to decorate a balsa wood glider – putting their own personal stamp on the plane. After rotating through all of the stations, the group listened to “Career Day” presentations that allowed each presenter to explain their particular role in aviation and tips for navigating a successful career in the aviation field.
“The point was to show this awesome group of young ladies that many aviation careers are within their means, are exciting options, and are in great need of dedicated women and girls to fill them,” said Alexis Quintana, Vice President of the Mile High Chapter of Women in Aviation. “Our main goals were to get this group of girls excited about aviation as a whole and to show them the vast array of careers that they could take on within the industry, including but not limited to flying.” To achieve this end, event volunteers included airline, regional and corporate airline pilots, flight instructors, airport operations personnel, FBO managers and staff, Jeppesen analysts, FAA Safety managers, mechanics, aviation accountant, and many more.
OUR MAIN GOALS WERE TO GET THIS GROUP OF GIRLS EXCITED ABOUT AVIATION AS A WHOLE AND TO SHOW THEM THE VAST ARRAY OF CAREERS THAT THEY COULD TAKE ON WITHIN THE INDUSTRY.Alexis Quintana
The event was alive with an air of empowerment, one not lost on those presenting to the female aviation professionals of tomorrow. Townsend noted the event offered the young attendees a tangible view into the entire aviation field. “I think it’s incredibly important for young women to be exposed to all types of opportunities in aviation and realize that they can pursue these types of careers if they want to,” she remarked. “Being able to fly an airplane was so outside my realm of thinking when I was a young girl until my step-mom took me for a discovery flight, introducing me to a whole new area of possibility. I loved telling these girls that they could do this if they so desire.”
Groups like Women in Aviation International (WAI) are dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests. The WAI membership includes female astronauts, corporate pilots, maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, business owners, educators, journalists, flight attendants, high school and university students, air show performers, airport managers and many others. Quintana noted that youth activities are critical to the success of the organization’s mission. “It goes beyond the impending pilot shortage to looking at the bigger picture and all areas of aviation where women can build successful careers,” she said. “For the girls this year, we provided materials to their parents about many other aviation clubs and organizations that they could get involved with even at some very young ages. Many of these groups have opportunities for scholarships, flights, and additional learning opportunities.” Through these resources, the excitement of the Girls in Aviation Day could translate to continued interest and enrichment.
Event organizers successfully brought together sponsors from across the community to build a meaningful day, complete with a commemorative passport with stamps for each station visited and other prizes, including airplane models and discovery flights. “Among our sponsors were Denver International Airport, Jeppesen, Boeing, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Centennial Airport, Denver jetCenter, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, Dagmar Aerobatics, Pilatus, Lockheed Martin, and of course Jet Linx Denver who, without their donation of location, display aircraft, and personnel, our event could not have happened or been as successful as it was,” remarked Quintana.
The Jet Linx Denver team enjoyed hosting the first Denver area Girls in Aviation Day. “I think this event was a great success and I’m so proud of Jet Linx Denver for being open to hosting this awesome day for the girls,” said Townsend.
Women in Aviation
Women have been involved in aviation since its earliest days (see below for a list of famous women in the field). During the last two decades, the number of women involved in the aviation industry has steadily increased and women can be found in nearly every aviation occupation today. However, the numbers remain small by comparison – women pilots, for example, represent only six percent of the total pilot population.
SVETLANA SAVITSKAYA | The first woman to walk in space, Savitskaya’s spacewalk in the 1980’s lasted just over three and a half hours.
HELEN RICHEY | Richey became the first woman pilot for a U.S. commercial airline in 1934.
EILEEN COLLINS | Astronaut Collins became the first female space shuttle commander in 1995.
AMY JOHNSON | Johnson was the first woman to fly from London, England to Australia solo, the first (with Jack Humphries as co-pilot) to fly from London to Moscow.
JACQUELINE COCHRAN | Cochran was the first woman to break the sound barrier, with her friend Chuck Yeager flying in the chase plane. She went on to set more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot, male or female, holding them until her death in 1980.