Friday, November 16, 2012

Pay it forward when you "Fly it Forward"

Remember Benjamin Franklin? He of the Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise?

Much of what is attributed to him are quick witticisms, which may or may not be a result of his messing with keys, lightning and kites. But he also promoted some deep philosophies and is credited with the first use of the "Pay it forward" idea:

I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.

Sure, if you borrow money you should pay it back. And when it's paid back two people are satisfied at the very least. But if someone was to make someone feel better by giving him/her a loan, but then THAT person made someone else feel better by passing on that loan, the happiness factor increased 33%. That's a nice return on investment.

[Math whizzes and statisticians need not comment.]

According to WikiAnswers, "In the modern vernacular the phrase has been adopted to mean, "don't worry about it, just go on and be a good influence with your life, or whatever." But the source of this phrase has a foundation that was popularized as part of the new millennium." Pay it Forward is well known as the title of a movie released in 2000 about a boy given a school assignment that requires him to find some way to change the world.

As a philosophy, Wisegeek says, "Paying it forward is a third-party beneficiary concept that involves doing something good for someone in response to a good deed done on your behalf or a gift you received. However, when you pay it forward, you don't repay the person who did something nice for you. Instead, you do something nice for someone else." And by doing so, at least for that one person, changed his or her world.

But what about Miss Janet (Jackson), she of the "What have you done for me lately?" Jonathon Lockwood Huie pens on his blog:

We have reason to have infinite gratitude to the Universe for everything we have and everything we are, yet we cannot repay the Universe. We have gratitude for our distant ancestors, yet cannot repay them. We have gratitude to our parents for our very life, and to our parents or other caregivers for our nurture, yet we cannot repay them in kind. We may have many other gratitudes that, for one reason or another, cannot be repaid to those who were so generous to us.

I know of an opportunity for you to do "a deal of good." By not paying it forward (though heaven knows nonprofits like GWW need all the coin it can get) but by thanking those who have contributed to all that we aviation enthusiasts enjoy by FLYING it Forward. That's right. There is an event that is its third year called "Fly it Forward," a key contributor in the annual Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, which, since its inception in March 2010, has enabled "more than 5,000 girls and women to discover the joys of flight in small aircraft in 36 countries and on 4 continents."

The initiative has doubled in size each year since 2010.

Doubled. In. Size. In two years! So, this, their third year, could potentially see 10,000 girls and women in 72 countries on 8 continents... ok, so there are only 7 continents, but there are 196 countries (or 195, depending on your reference).

This will not happen unless more volunteers participate in the effort, though. So here is your chance to Fly it Forward. Victoria Zajko, team leader for U.S. events, said her goal is to have at least one event in each of the 50 states. She sent me the following message to send on to you, dear reader, who believes, deep down, that you believe in giving back to the aviation community, nay, the universe, and the importance of focusing attention on the lack of female involvement in the air and space industry.

I wish to personally invite you to partake in the 2013 week. As the US Team Leader I am here to help promote and support you every step of the way.  We've made it much easier on the event organizers this year with the event organizer handbook.  You can request one here.  The event organizer handbook is full of great ideas as well as guidelines to create an inspirational flying event.  I hope that you will consider joining us for WOAW 2013!  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Together, I hope we can introduce many new girls and women to an industry I know we are both very passionate about!
It is wonderful to know that there are nonprofits that can work together towards their goals, and WOAW and GWW agree that our missions are synergistic - that by working together we can increase the effectiveness of our organizations. In fact, last year, Girls With Wings had a presence at the Fly it Forward event in Frederick, MD, with GWW Board Member Keith Jones and family running the booth. Victoria is in the white jacket and on the right were both Jane Law Wicker, a Wing Walker, and Sarah Fraher, of Flying Wild Alaska on the Discovery Channel.

So you can either organize an event in your area with the following guidance offered:

The format of events is entirely up to the organizer and not supervised by iWOAW. However, whether or not they include discovery flights, events organized within the spirit of the celebration of Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week must include the following key elements:
  • Women-centric attractions and activities designed to not only make girls and women feel welcomed but also uniquely valued and special.
  • Female public as a majority.
  • Original and media worthy elements.
  • Events that include discovery flights must make safety the number one priority.
  • Event reports must be received by March 17, 2013, midnight, to qualify the participants to titles and prizes.
Outside of these basic guidelines, let your imagination soar, knowing that prizes are offered in this *friendly* competition: most female friendly airport, most girls/women flown, so on.

Or you can participate in an existing event by A. using your airplane, helicopter, etc.,  to take these girls and women to new heights! and/or B. letting attendees know about Girls With Wings, so we can encourage the young girls to continue their interest in aviation, like Christa and Pamela have done (Christa's son was a bonus!). It's not hard - I'll send you brochures and other helpful materials and you can assist in encouraging these girls to grow up and GROW the percentage of women in aviation. The important thing is that you do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to Fly it Forward. These things do not happen, are not successful, unless people like you participate.

Interested volunteers can also be sent a limited supply of Girls With Wings Pilot Shop merchandise so that attendees of the event can purchase a momento of their experience and help to raise funds for Girls With Wings.

Now. Please email me if you'd like to help promote Girls With Wings AND get in touch with Victoria to let her know how you will contribute to this worthy cause. March 4-10, 2013. Mark your calendar.

Here's a compilation of last year's event. If you're like me, and these images showing the excitement on everyone's faces don't inspire you to get involved, nothing will.


  1. Anonymous6:51 AM

    Very nice video. You do such a wonderful job!
    If you had printable mini-flyers, we could distribute them at our local functions (Young Eagles rallies, etc.) - maybe include them in your newsletters?

    1. Please send an email to to give us more details regarding your request.
      Thank you!