By Laurelle Walsh
To celebrate Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, March 3-9, local pilots are preparing a number of events aimed at exposing young people to flying and the aviation industry.
A high school assembly, a community-wide Aviation Day, and free flights for women and girls during the worldwide Fly It Forward Challenge are all geared toward generating excitement about aviation, said organizer Bob Hoffman.
“Our main goal is to get kids to think about the possibilities of aviation, but more than that we’d like to see them develop a passion for something and go for it,” Hoffman said.
To help inspire youth and introduce them to role models in the industry, motivational speaker Cate Mighell — pilot, author, business executive and founder of the Arlington, Wash.-based flight school, Out of the Blue Aviation — will kick off events at Liberty Bell High School with an assembly and presentation on Feb. 27 and 28.
Saturday, March 1, is Aviation Day at Methow Valley State Airport, home of the North Cascades Smokejumper Base. Free, and open to the public from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Aviation Day gives people of all ages a chance to talk to professional pilots, aviation mechanics and cabin attendants about their chosen careers, said Hoffman.
Deanna White, president of Flexjet — a Texas-based company that provides fractional jet ownership for private and business travelers — will fly in on one of her company’s jets with an all-female flight crew.
Two female flight instructors from Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake will also fly in and answer questions about the school’s degree programs for commercial pilots, mechanics and helicopter pilots.
Other participants include U.S. Forest Service lead pilot, Jamie Tackman; Monica Oakes of the women pilot’s organization The Ninety-Nines; and Peter Dixon demonstrating how he is building an experimental Van’s RV-7 airplane.
The North Cascades Smokejumper Base will also be open for tours of the historic facility that day.
To take a free “discovery” flight above the Methow Valley between March 3-9, women and girls must sign up on Saturday at Aviation Day. The local pilots who are donating their time, airplanes and fuel for the discovery flights hope to attract even more female flyers than last year’s premiere Fly It Forward week, which attracted 160 women and girls, said Hoffman.
“Exposure is important,” Hoffman said, “especially for girls. Our culture doesn’t encourage women to get into fields like this.” In fact, less than 6 percent of people involved in aviation are women, a number that has actually gone down since 1980, according to the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide .
Young men under age 18 who have never experienced a general aviation flight will get their chance to fly free on March 15 at both local airports, time and details to be announced, said Hoffman.
For more information about Aviation Day and the Fly It Forward Challenge, go to the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week website, www.womenofaviationweek.org/rsvp/methow-valley/, or call Hoffman at 997-8141.