Girls in Aviation Day teaches women they, too, can pilot airplanes

One hundred cities across the nation worked to empower women Saturday during an event called Girls in Aviation, which taught girls age 8 to 11 the basics of airplanes.

Dane County’s branch of Women in Aviation International, Four Lakes Chapter, hosted 40 girls from the Madison area at Wisconsin Aviation on Saturday afternoon.

The girls learned about aviation navigation and communication, played with interactive games and sat in some of the airplane’s cockpits.

“The big reason we want to introduce girls and get them inspired in aviation is because right now, there’s a big call for pilots out there in the world, and women only make up 7% of all pilots,” said Sarah Pozdell, the president of Four Lakes Chapter. “That number hasn’t really changed since the late 80s.”

One of the founders of the Four Lakes Chapter, recreational pilot Milena McFeeters, said it’s not that girls aren’t interested in aviation, but rather that they’re not exposed to it.

Pozdell said introducing girls to aviation shows them that there are women they can look up to in the field.

“They’ve never seen someone that looks like them, perhaps, flying a plane, so that’s why we think it’s so important for girls to see, ‘Hey, there are a bunch of women pilots out there and you can be a pilot too,'” McFeeters said.

Beyond the basics of flying, the girls learned about careers in the field of science, technology, engineering and math.

Although one cannot solo an airplane till the age of 16, Pozdell said it’s never too late to start flying, and it’s also never too early to start learning.

Prospective pilots Inga and Eve, both 8 years old, attended Saturday’s event.

“We’re coming to see girls learning about girls flying planes because [we want to] be a pilot,” Eve said.

Gov. Tony Evers proclaimed Saturday as Girls in Aviation Day for the state of Wisconsin. Pozdell said she hopes he’ll do the same next year.

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