November 6, 2009
Many aviation advocacy groups share a goal to work toward diversifying the pilot population, and in an effort to encourage more women to consider aviation careers, Women in Aviation International teamed up with AOPA this week to create a Women's Wing for the Aviation Summit in Tampa. "We offered seminars and mini-forums about careers, about following your passion, and exploring why would a person want to learn to fly," said Amy Laboda, editor in chief of WAI's Aviation for Women magazine. The group also hosted a breakfast for women pilots and book signings with aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff and Susan Butler, author of East to the Dawn, one of the books that inspired the new Amelia Earhart movie. A Frasca Piper Warrior simulator and a flight instructor were stationed in the Wing to offer a chance to any women who wanted to give it a try. The space also provided a meeting place for women to meet other women in aviation, or to ask questions about careers and flight training.
The aim was to get connected, get inspired, and get informed. "We had a lot of fun," said Laboda. "It's all about the camaraderie." AOPA also sponsored a forum on women leaders in aviation on Friday afternoon, featuring WAI President Peggy Chabrian; Martha King of King Schools; Jessica Cox, an inspirational speaker and the first person without arms to earn a sport pilot certificate; Arylnn McMahon, 2009 National CFI of the Year; airline captain and aerobatic flyer Debby Rihn-Harvey, and Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president.