Optimism Rules At Women In Aviation Conference

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These may be tough times for the aviation industry, but at the 20th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference, which wrapped up last Saturday in Atlanta, the mood was upbeat. The economy and jobs were on everyone's mind, and older WAI members assured the younger attendees that ups and downs are nothing new for the aviation industry. "Companies and organizations continue to hire, and we had active career recruiting by many of our exhibitors, especially for mechanics and technicians, but also for pilots, air traffic controllers and other positions as well," said WAI President Peggy Chabrian. "Our members and conference attendees are proactive and steadfast; they are the top-tier candidates that any employer would want to hire." About 3,000 people from 15 countries attended the event, which featured 125 exhibitors plus forums and workshops. Scholarships totaling $459,450 in value were awarded to WAI members at every stage of life from university students to some seeking a midlife career change into aviation.

Five women were inducted into WAI's International Pioneer Hall of Fame: Jacqueline Cochran, the first woman to break the sound barrier; Patricia Malone, a U.S. Navy WAVE who trained aircraft carrier-based pilots on instrument flight procedures; Ruth Nichols, who holds more than 35 aviation records; Dawn Seymour, the first woman accepted into the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Cornell University; and Anna Timofeyeva-Yegorova, one of the most famous Soviet women to fly in a male combat regiment during World War II and holder of the Hero of the Soviet Union award.

The 21st Annual International Women in Aviation Conference will be held at Walt Disney World's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near Orlando, Feb. 25-27, 2010. For more information, visit WAI.org.