by Nancy Blake
Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2019 issue
I had the opportunity to renew an acquaintance of mine at Sun ‘n Fun 2019, when I saw Dr. Peggy Chabrian, President and CEO of Women In Aviation International (WAI). WAI is a 25-year-old non-profit organization. The WAI quotes in their brochure that their mission is “an organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields of interests.” WAI’s diverse membership includes astronauts, pilots, maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, engineers, business owners, educators, journalists, flight attendants, high school and university students, airshow performers, airport managers, and many others.
In total, there are more than 13,500 members and 120 local chapters from 82 countries in WAI. Chapters host local meetings, programs and speakers. To find a chapter near you, go to www.WAI.org/chapters.
In addition to local chapter meetings, WAI membership benefits include career mentors, an online service for helping members at www.WAI.org/members/mentors, and a career resources program – WAI Jobs Connect – which posts open jobs and internships for members at www:WAI.org/members/jobs-connects. WAI College Connect is a program that encourages students at colleges and universities with aviation programs to join WAI and use the resources of the organization in their studies. Membership benefits also include discounts on tickets to airshows like Sun ‘n Fun and EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
One hundred (100) aviation scholarships and internships totaling $600,000 are given away yearly to WAI members.
Aviation for Women magazine is published six times a year and is available in digital and print formats. The magazine is very informative for women pilots of all ages. A monthly newsletter called WAIConnect eNewsletter is sent by email each month with WAI and chapter news.
The fourth edition of a new magazine called Aviation for Girls focuses on girls ages 8-17. The articles cover every aspect of aviation. This is an international aviation outreach program for girls and young women. Aviation for Girls Day will be October 5, 2019 and will be held at airports or other aviation venues nationally and internationally.
A five-day overnight camp for girls ages 11-15 called PreFlight Aviation Camp, is held in San Marcos, Texas at Texas State University every summer. All camp counselors are professional female pilots. STEM-based lessons are taught. Opportunities to tour a control tower, learn how airplanes fly, learn the phonetic alphabet, do a flight plan, and fly a plane are some of the activities held during camp. A mentor is assigned to each girl when they leave camp. Contact the camp at www.PreFlightCamp.com.
The Women In Aviation International Conference is held annually. The 2020 conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, March 5-7, 2020 at Disney Coronado Springs Resort.
For membership information, visit www.WAI.org/membership/join-renew.
The information I gathered for this article is so inspiring, I am planning to become a member, and I urge you to become a member, too!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Nancy Blake is an instrument-rated pilot and aircraft owner, and resides in Sarasota, Florida with her husband Bill Blake, who is also a pilot and the former director of aeronautics for the State of Illinois. The Blakes are originally from Peoria, Illinois.