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GIAD 2019

Oh! What a day!

Girls in Aviation Day 2019

Sixty-nine girls from twenty-two schools in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties of Central Florida heeded the call to participate in Women in Aviation's Fifth Annual Girls in Aviation Day.  They applied during August and September of this year to participate in the Central Florida Chapter's event. Based on a review of online applications, a total of forty candidates were selected to participate.  These young ladies in grades 9-12, represented 17 high schools in the Central Florida area. We also had one out of state candidate who flew in for the event.

With over one hundred people in attendance, hosting this free event was a group effort.  In addition to the students in attendance, we had sponsors, instructors, presenters, chapter members and volunteers who graciously gave of their time to make this event a success.

Our sponsors include 

Sheltair Aviation Services, Orlando

Flight Training Professionals

Wings Financial

A special thanks also goes out to our host

United Airlines (UA)

Additional thank you to

Greater Orlando Areal Airport (GOAA) K-9 Team and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) personnel

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex  

Paul J. Hagerty High School Robotics Team

Central Florida Composite Squadron SER-FL-259 of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP)

United Airlines' Chix Fix members 


During the full-day event, these young ladies had the opportunity to meet and talk one-on-one with women in diverse aviation and aerospace career fields; as well as, participate in numerous presentations and hands-on activities. These included:

A flight instructor with Flight Training Professional and WAI Central Florida Chapter member, Maggie Larson, spoke to the participants about the principles of flight. She used her Cessna 172 training aircraft to explain the aircraft components and the aerodynamics of flight. The participants had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit, ask questions and take pictures.

For Hagerty High School Robotics team leaders (Olivia, Abigail, Katie and Gabriela) innovation is key. They introduced the attendees to the making of robotic figurines, programming and to thinking outside the box.

Laurel Ross, WAI Central Florida Chapter member, former military, corporate and commercial pilot, challenged the attendees to learn how to read a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Sectional. She made it fun, by introducing a ‘scavenger hunt’ format to the lesson. 

Two of United Airlines' Chix Fix team members, Yolanda Gong and Katrina Oyer provided hands on experience at their station with the use of a riveting tool and a pneumatic engraver. 

High School Sophomore, Emma McConaughey, current Central Florida WAI Chapter member, was the lunch time special speaker. She was one among 25 WAI scholarship recipients who attended the National Flight Academy at the Pensacola Naval Air Base this past August. While at the Academy, she had the opportunity to prepare a flight plan and use her directional and aeronautical skills while flying in a simulator.

Melanie Calderon from the Kennedy Space Center Outreach Office provided the attendees with general information about the center ad introduced the UH-1, Huey helicopter located just outside the hangar.  The unit's primary mission is to provide security for the Space Center in addition to providing over-watch for the movement of the astronauts and wildlife management and tracking. They expect to expand their capability soon to provide medical support for the Center.  The crew discussed the makeup and functionality of the aircraft and assisted those who wanted to sit inside the helicopter and take pictures.

Beth Perdue, from the Education Department at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center Complex, presented the girls with a communications challenge while leaving the girls with plenty of good information and handouts.

A member of the Central Florida Chapter, Nina Burke is also a First Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), in charge of the CF Composite Squadron SER-FL-259. She provided an overview of the CAP, a volunteer organization and how they interact with other branches of the military.  Cadet Staff Sergeant Sara Burton, from Lake Mary High School and in Nina’s squadron had the opportunity to attend GIAD and interact with the participants. 

Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (AARF) personnel from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) attended GIAD during the afternoon.  They brought out two crash trucks. One had a high reach elevated waterway with an extendable turret and a piercing nozzle. Another had an elevated waterway on a 100-foot ladder.  Attendees were able to reach new heights on the trucks and practice using the hoses.

The role of the Flight Attendant was presented by chapter member Anna Perrin, who is a Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant. She spoke on qualifications and training requirements, safety procedures, the do’s and don’ts of being a passenger and answered numerous questions from the girls.  This session took place inside an actual aircraft in the United Hangar.​

Participants were also able to meet current United Airlines Captain Pam Perdue.  She took them on a tour of her aircraft and allowed them to ask questions, try on her uniform accessories and take pictures.

The final opportunity the attendees had was to witness actual K-9 dogs and handlers from the Orlando International Airport conduct in-aircraft inspections.  They leaned more information about how inspections are conducted and the requirements to pursue this career.

Overall a great day to learn more about aviation industry career opportunities, networking and make new friends.  Be on the lookout for Women in Aviation, International's 2020 Girls in Aviation Day!

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