Girls in Aviation Day
Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Helicopter Pilots
On Sept. 23, 2017, Women in Aviation International (WAI) chapters around the world brought passion, exploration, learning, and the excitement of aviation and aerospace to approximately 9,700 participants in the third annual Girls in Aviation Day.
The Wright Chapter of WAI welcomed approximately 80 girls to its Batavia, Ohio, event at Sporty’s Pilot Shop — one of the most respected names in aviation. They were joined by Allison McKay, vice president of Helicopter Foundation International. Sporty’s was founded in 1961 by Hal Shevers and has grown to include support for every segment of light aircraft.
Stations at the event included information about aviation careers, learning to fly, maintenance, air traffic control, military, helicopters, and engineering. HFI donated its coloring book, Come Fly with Me!, and a children’s book, Finnegan Fling Wing’s Airshow Adventure, written by HAI’s Director of Safety Steve Sparks.
“HFI shares WAI’s desire to teach young girls and boys about helicopters and what they can do,” says McKay. “For some, all it takes is a helicopter ride, or even just a chance to see a helicopter in action, to set them on a path to become a pilot, maintenance technician, or other aviation professional.”
Stephanie Bell, civil rotary wing business development manager at Rockwell Collins, was at the event’s helicopter station. She happily explained to the kids how helicopters fly and what missions they support.
“I got involved in WAI, and subsequently Girls in Aviation Day, because I love giving kids the exposure to aviation, and especially helicopters, that I have had my entire life,” Bell says. “Because my Dad is a Bell and my Mom is a Hughes, I grew up around dinner tables where explanations of ‘settling with power’ and translational lift were drawn on napkins.
“My dad and I own a Bell 47G2 together, and we love giving kids (and adults) rides, especially as a first flight. It’s amazing to see that aviation bug bite.”