Feature Story Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Come Fly with Me
Small steps on a long journey towards achieving gender balance in aviation & aerospace
By Kirsten Brazier, Girls Fly 2 Ambassador 99/Photos by Double Exposure Photography & others
The Girls Fly 2 event last month in Abbotsford put over 1700 gals in the air.
ut of 24,505 professional pilots in Canada, only 1,356 of them are women. Out of 19,601 aircraft engineers, only 560 of them are women. Less than 3% of the technical positions in the Royal Canadian Air Force, such as pilot or maintenance technician, are held by women. Canada is not alone – the US shares similar statistics and many countries have yet to announce female firsts in aviation, aerospace and space.
It would be easy to conclude that women are unwelcome in these fields. Instead, studies have shown that a common perception persists that aviation and aerospace are reserved for men. Since society observes mostly men employed in these fields, this perception is continually reinforced.
The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! free outreach events and other initiatives aim to change this perception by specifically welcoming women to the airport and giving them an interactive, hands-on introduction to aviation, aerospace and space.
Our outreach initiatives are focused on achieving gender balance in aviation and aerospace by developing mentoring partnerships with industry, establishing leadership activities, public education and our popular hands-on outreach events.
Our events change lives and bring many communities together for a common purpose! Girls and women of all ages gather from far and wide at a selected airport for a truly unique mission of discovery. Our events are fun, hands on and completely free to ensure there are no barriers to participation. This is made possible by the support of community and industry partners.
The majority of our target female audience have no experience with, or exposure to aviation. Before we can engage and inspire females with the limitless opportunities available in aviation, aerospace and space, we must first attract them to the airport and grab their attention. We can think of no better way to do this than by taking them flying for the first time – the first flight experience is so incredible we just have to share it!
Events are well advertised in advance through various radio, print and TV media, social media and word of mouth. Female first-time fliers must pre-register on the website – moms are encouraged to fly with their daughters. We welcome all ages to our events because it’s never too late to spark an interest in the many facets of aviation, aerospace and space.
Our events are about education as much as they are about inspiring girls and women. Therefore we encourage families to attend and support the daughters of the community and our future leaders.
All participants are able to meet civilian and non-civilian VIPS, explore cool aircraft on static display and engage in hands-on learning activities in aviation, aerospace and space.
Things were a little hectic on opening day…Most aircraft arrived the night before however several aircraft belong to commercial or crown operators and were on active duty. Despite the best of intentions weather, logistics and operational requirements sometimes have an adverse impact on aircraft availability and arrival times. While some might complain that late arrivals present an interference to the event schedule, we prefer to point out that part of the attraction of the aviation, aerospace and space industries is the requirement to continually overcome and often creatively adapt to ever changing circumstances.
Joining an already impressive line-up of aircraft, and included among the late arrivals was Nav Canada’s Canadian built Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ-200) – fresh in from performing early morning safety checks on one of the instrument approaches at YVR.
Then came a procession of Air Cadets, gliders under tow, and a Cessna 182 tow plane all from Air Cadet’s Regional Gliding School (Pacific), followed by Helijet’s sleek Sikorsky S-76 helicopter. Not to be outdone, the Canadian Coast Guard Bell 212 helicopter made a rather spectacular arrival – late from a last minute diversion enroute to check on survivors from an overturned vessel – and was personally guided into its special parking space by the event organizer, Kirsten Brazier.
The stage was then set for an impressive opening ceremonies, emceed by Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Colonel (Ret) George Miller.
Distinguished Guests included the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor for British Columbia; Mr. Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament for Langley; the Honourable Rich Coleman, Deputy Premier for BC; the Honourable Michael de Jong, Minister of Finance; Councillor Brenda Falk, City of Abbotsford; Captain Kirsten Brazier, Founder The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too!; Captain (Ret) Wendy Lawrence, NASA Astronaut and US Navy Helicopter Pilot. Her Honour’s Pipe Major John Mager piped the procession into proper position where O Canada was played by the Royal Canadian Air Cadets band from 746 Squadron.
Thus began our EPIC event….
Over 9,800 participants attended over the two day event March 7-8, 2015. Though we lost some of our registration/check-in data due to a damaged hard drive, we’ve been able to confirm that at least 1741 females of all ages flew for the first time in a small aircraft.
We look forward to announcing next year’s event – once we find a suitable descriptive word greater than EPIC (our goal and achievements this year)!
For updates and more photos please visit:
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