On May 26th, the first Girls With Wings Club was successfully formed in the Minneapolis area. The Club's leader is Lindsey, at right, who is already a Girl With Wings Role Model and very active GWW volunteer. She did almost all of the work on the logistics for this event (for which I am extremely grateful) in order to arrange for a morning of training on the GWW presentation. She had connections galore, from the folks that donated the coffee and muffins for the morning session, and lunch, to a mom who is a teacher at the school where, as you can see, we were able to practice our skills to the students in the afternoon.
The participants had a great time getting to know each other and sharing their backgrounds. Most women in aviation have personal stories connected with their training experiences that form the basis of the Girls With Wings mission. The aviation industry is clearly a male dominated one, so the fact that we can illustrate to the girls (as real life examples) of successful women in aviation helps to inspire them to achieve THEIR full potential. The idea behind the interactive presentation is that we don't stand up at the front of the class and do a rote rundown of our education and training. We get in the middle of things and give the girls some individual attention!
We do tell the girls about ourselves, of course preferably with some insight into the rewards we find in our passion for aviation that make the hard work and study worth it, but then we give them hands-on instruction. What better "vehicle" than learning how to fly a plane is there to demonstrate to the girls that they can do anything they set their mind to? Ok, sometimes the hands on instruction is literal. How else are you going to show the girls how that attitude indicator works to show you which way your airplane is turning? This level of interaction with the girls is facilitated by speaking to the girls by themselves (with the boys off doing their own activities during this time).
All of the girls were wonderful but there was one girl in particular who made an impression on me. She is shown at left in her wheelchair and every picture I have from the event shows her so riveted on the presentation. I am so glad that I thought to go up to her afterward and tell her about AbleFlight, an organization that offers people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance. Her face lit up like the sun!
The next training session will be at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, in NY state on August 23rd. We would love to have you join us. Amy, this year's GWW Scholarship Winner, is handling the logistics for this event. Thanks, Amy! Please tell your women in aviation friends so they can participate. Tell girls they can have the their groups attend the presentationn. It's going to be a great time for all involved!