Women Pilots' Record: 310 First Flights

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Organizers of the Centennial of Women Pilots, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first pilot certificate awarded to a woman, set a record this month by introducing 310 girls and women around the world, ages 2 to 70, to their first flight in a general aviation aircraft. The flights took place in eight countries on three continents, in 20 different kinds of aircraft, including balloons, gliders, ultralights, airplanes and helicopters, during the week of March 6 to 12. The group now plans to extend the effort for the rest of this year, with the goal to introduce 2,010 girls and women to aviation in 2010. In the last 100 years, the percentage of women who are doctors and lawyers has increased significantly, noted Mireille Goyer, a Canadian pilot who is spearheading the challenge. "Our goal is to grow the women pilots' population to at least [a comparable] level within the next 100 years," she said.

Many pilots who registered to participate during the challenge week were stymied by wintry weather. The organizers hope that by extending the challenge to a full year, everyone who wants to take part will have the opportunity. Male pilots are also welcome to participate by taking a woman or girl for a flight. The Web site has a list of FAQs for anyone who would like to take part, and you can register online.