From March 4 to March 10, 2013, over 2,100 volunteers across four continents - Africa, Asia, America, and Europe - introduced more than 17,000 girls and women to the opportunities available in the air and space industry as part of the Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week celebration, held annually during the week of March 8, anniversary date of the first female pilot license worldwide.
Nothing can spark aviation vocations like experiencing the magic and sensations of flight in a small aircraft. Many of 74 events included an invitation for girls and women to try flight in a small aircraft.
There were 333 pilots who flew 109 types of aircraft for more than 1,500 hours - enough hours to fly 12 times around the globe in a small aircraft - in order to introduce 5,316 girls and women to flying. For reference, the largest female airline pilot rated population resides in the United States and totaled 5,818 in 2012.
Friendly competitions held as part of the Fly-It-Forward Challenge reward aviation enthusiasts that excel at enticing their local female population to discover the air and space industry.
The most coveted title, 'Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide', is awarded annually to the airport community that offers and documents the most female first flight experiences in approved aircraft throughout the week.
In 2012, more than 400 flights allowed Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Canada, to win the title. The top three contenders in 2013 orchestrated more than 500 flights each.
Lead by event organizer Jill Oakes, the St Andrews Airport Community in the greater Winnipeg area of Manitoba, wins the '2013 Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide' title with a whopping 680 documented flight introductions in approved aircraft.
Oakes won the $1,000 training prize awarded to the organizer responsible for the event yielding the most effectiveness and outreach overall. Number of flights, number of volunteers, number of women who take the next step and amount of press coverage are a few of the criteria to win the prize. "The end result is about 40 gals signed up for ground school," said Oakes.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is the first runner up with 634 flights and Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario is the second runner up with 517 flights. Frederick, Maryland, USA, retains its honorary title of 'Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport in the USA' with 342 flights.
Female pilot friendly regions stood up as well. The province of Ontario in Canada was responsible for more than 1,400 flights; Washington State totaled more than 400 flights between events in Seattle and Twist.
Acknowledging that creating excitement is only the first step to increasing diversity in aviation, the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide created a new title in 2013: 'Most Female Pilot Friendly Training Center Worldwide'. This title is awarded to the training center that fosters the most female introductory flights during the week.
Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, based at the Kitchener-Waterloo airport in Ontario won the world title with 517 flights. The first runner up is Calhoun Air Center based in Victoria, Texas, USA. Rockcliffe Flying Club in Ottawa, Ontario rounds up the top three.
"Engaged individuals at all levels is what has made the Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week initiative the largest female outreach aviation program ever created," says Mireille Goyer, founder of the initiative and President of the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide.
While the average number of introductory flights per pilot was 15, one third of the pilots went beyond the average. The 'Most Dedicated Female Pilot Worldwide' and the 'Most Supportive Male Pilot Worldwide' titles salute the most prolific pilots.
Bush pilot, Kirsten Brazier, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories initiated 180 girls and women to flying to earn the '2013 Most Dedicated Female Pilot Worldwide' title for the second year in a row. First and second runners up in the category were respectively, Megan Tyler, Northwest Territories, and Dianna Stanger, Port Lavaca, Texas, USA.
To win the 'Most Supportive Male Pilot Worldwide' title, Frank Roberts of St Andrews, Manitoba, Canada, flew 302 girls and women. Geoff Furniss and Glen Sibbeston, both from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories took the first and second runner up positions.
Lesley Page, Canada Team Leader for the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, attributes Canada’s tremendous success to the dedication of thousands of volunteers. She said, “Working closely with two dozen organizers and their teams, all across Canada, I saw how much enthusiastic effort went into the events. In particular, the contributions of COPA and the Canadian Ninety-Nines stand out because of the nation-wide impact that these two organizations and their members had on the results.”