Taking Flight

Glider in Silhouette by Matt Banks/ freedigitalphotos.net

Glider in Silhouette by Matt Banks/ freedigitalphotos.net

“I think a lot of gals just don’t understand aviation or are a little bit afraid of it,” Tina Thomas of Poplar Grove Airmotive told us in this week’s episode. “But if they get out and actually experience it, I think….they’ll learn how much fun it is and why all the guys are keeping it a little bit of a hidden secret.”

That got us wondering about other women who had pursued careers in the aviation field and led us to the website Women In Aviation International. There, we quickly learned that women across the country have been employed both in the skies and behind the scenes of the aviation industry – for nearly a century!

The WAI annual Pioneer Hall of Fame profiles some of aviation’s most successful women, including pilots, engineers and astronauts. Among the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees is Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, who WAI tells us was the first woman to captain a 747-400, the first woman to captain a 777 and the first woman test pilot employed by Boeing in both production and experimental flight test. Today she is Boeing’s chief training pilot for almost 700 instructor pilots. You can hear her describe her aviation career here.

And then there’s 1994 WAI Hall of Fame inductee Mary Feik, who at age 84 travels the country as a lecturer for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) describing her 50-year career as an airplane master mechanic, discussing her more than 6,000 hours of flight time testing military aircraft to determine maintenance and safety requirements, and talking about her work restoring famous planes at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. You can read more about Mary’s long and exciting career here.

As these inspiring trailblazers are demonstrating, when it comes to careers in aviation for women, the sky really is the limit!

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