Monday, May 04, 2009

The Girls With Wings Presentation

"Any pilot can describe the mechanics of flying. What it can do for the spirit of man is beyond description."
- Barry Goldwater, US Senator and Presidential Candidate.

This past weekend I did four Girls With Wings presentations at a local Girl Scout camp having a National Astronomy day. One is tiring, so four just about wore me out! This is an interactive presentation to teach girls "everything" they need to know to fly an airplane. These girls have a lot of energy and if given the opportunity, will enthusiastically respond to a (shhh!) educational activity.

I get asked a lot why I prefer to separate the girls from the boys. It's not that I'm anti-boy. I will do presentations to groups of both genders. But there is a different dynamic when you get the girls in a group by themselves. If there are boys present, the girls are reluctant to speak up. The boys are more assertive than the girls, and since my mission is to use women in aviation to inspire girls to achieve their full potential, I need to be able to reach the target audience. BTW something else I've learned: for every girl over 30 participants, the difficulty (and my exhaustion level) increases exponentially! Kudos to teachers who spend all day every day with children.

I start by asking the girls about their experiences with aviation. Do they know any pilots, have the ever been on an airplane before? Have they seen what's up there in the cockpit, and do the think they could figure out what all of that stuff does? I tell them that I did not grow up wanting to be a pilot, but someone once told me it was really tough and so that's what I chose to do. Most girls can relate to being told that they "can't" and that they're stubborn, so seeing they get to see an real life example of someone who has been successful at what she loves to do!

I won't go into what the whole presentation is, just to tell you that I have been perfecting this presentation over the last couple of years, and am now preparing to have the first Girls With Wings training session in Minneapolis on May 26th. There are many groups located around the country interested in hosting a presentation, so I am looking for women willing to help reach out to their community. If you are interested in attending, please email Other planned sessions will be taking place in Cleveland, OH, New York, and Washington, DC.

Highlights of the presentation: using aeronautical charts to navigate to your destination, learning the role of Air Traffic Controllers and how to talk on the radio, how to read and use the 6 main instruments, basic aerodynamics, and how an engine works. All I will say is, the final demonstration of their "pretend" flight is shown to the left. If you'd like to know more you'll have to schedule a presentation to your school, Girl Scout troop or other group. Or become a Girls With Wings presenter yourself!

As a 6th grade attendee learned, "My advice to other girls my age after hearing Lynda talk about being a pilot: if you have a dream, follow it and try new things. Don't give up!"

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