The United States currently has a pilot shortage. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the number of pilots in America has decreased by 30 percent since 1987. At the same time, there has been a tremendous increase in the demand for air travel. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that, over the next 20 years, air travel will double. This mismatch could wreak havoc on the U.S. airline industry over the next decade.
One way to solve the problem may be to step up recruiting of young women. According to the most recent data from the FAA, 42,694 women hold a pilot certificate, representing only 7 percent of the total pilot population. But, the number of female pilots in the United States has been slowly but steadily increasing in recent years. In this news roundup, we learn about initiatives to inspire girls and women in aviation such as: Girls in Aviation Day, the 2018 Air Race Classic, Let’s Fly Now!, and Women in Aviation 2019 Scholarships.
Girls in Aviation Day 2018 Set for October
The 4th Annual Girls in Aviation Day is designed to introduce and educate girls from 8 to 17 years of age on the many career choices offered by the aviation/aerospace industry. Hosted by Women in Aviation International (WAI), Girls in Aviation Day was recognized as an “industry best practice” in a study entitled Aviation Outreach Model and Gap Analysis: Examining Solutions to Address Workforce Shortages, conducted by Dr. Rebecca Lutte, Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska Omaha Aviation Institute. Last year, an estimated 9,700 girls participated in 74 separate events worldwide. “We hope to surpass those numbers in October and will have some exciting announcements in the weeks ahead about the plans of chapters and corporate members,” says WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. Watch a two-minute video on Girls in Aviation Day here. Read more about the event here.
Pilots Mariah Ferber and Paige Kessler Win 2018 Air Race Classic
The annual Air Race Classic began in 1977 and continues to celebrate the achievements of women in aviation. Participants range in age from 17 to 90 years old and compete in a four-day, 2,400 statute mile race. The women come from a variety of backgrounds, including students, teachers, doctors, airline pilots, business owners, professionals, and air traffic controllers. Teams consist of at least two female pilots who must fly during daylight hours only. This year’s winners won by a fraction-of-a-mile-per-hour victory over second place finishers. Although more than 50 teams entered the race, about 18 did not complete the race, in many cases because of challenging weather conditions. Read more about it here.
Let’s Fly Now! Program Launches
Let’s Fly Now is a new program created by The Ninety Nines, an international organization of licensed women pilots from 44 countries, to give an opportunity for the group’s pilots to introduce girls and women to the joys of flying by providing a free introductory flight (boys and men are welcome, as well). Their goal is to grow the aviation community and open the minds of a new generation to possibilities that can take them on a lifelong journey of adventure and financial security. The program targets both children and adults whose passion for aviation may have been sparked later in life or who did not have the financial means or time to become involved in aviation earlier in life. Introductory flights (including pilots’ time, fuel, and airplanes) will be donated by The Ninety-Nines, Friends of The Ninety-Nines, and other certified volunteer pilots. Read about it here.
Women in Aviation 2019 Scholarship Applications Being Accepted
Women in Aviation International (WAI) has opened its application process for scholarships to be awarded at its next annual conference, set for March 2019. The organization said it would hand out at least 108 scholarships for a total value of $565,000. The number of scholarships, as well as the value, is expected to increase before the end of the application period, which closes on November 12. This year, WAI awarded its applicants nearly $700,000 worth of scholarships and has handed out close to $11.5 million since 1995. Applicants can choose up to three scholarships to apply for on the WAI website. The scholarships are not limited to pilots, but also include aviation business management, aircraft maintenance, aircraft dispatch, engineering and more. Read about it in Flying Magazine.