In conjunction with Women’s History Month in the U.S., the 26th Annual Women in Aviation, International (WAI) Conference fulfilled its promise to “Connect, Engage, Inspire” in Dallas, Texas, last week. The venue was the site of a huge aviation job fair, professional development and educational sessions, a youth-outreach event designed specifically for girls, and an induction of four female aviation pioneers into the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame. The 11,000-member-strong international nonprofit organization also distributed more than $600,000 in scholarships funded by WAI, its members and by its more than 100 corporate member companies.
This year’s exhibit hall hummed with the energy of more than 150 exhibitors and 4,500 attendees; women and men networking with the likes of Airbus, Bombardier, Gulfstream Aerospace, Textron, Piper, NetJets, GoJet, and a plethora of airlines, all accepting résumés. Eight companies held formal one-on-one interviews onsite at the conference, providing attendees, both female and male, with an excellent opportunity to make a positive impression on a prospective employer.
The focus of this year’s conference was on more than just its growing job fair. “We definitely had an increased number of educational sessions and workshops on leadership,” WAI president Dr. Peggy Chabrian told AIN. Four women were inducted into WAI’s International Pioneer Hall of Fame during a banquet Saturday night. They include Pat Blum, co-founder of Corporate Angel Network; Phoebe Omlie, the first woman in the United States to earn a commercial pilot certificate and pioneering airshow performer; and Deanie and Nancy Parrish, a mother-daughter pair who have preserved and recorded the history of the WASPs.
“So many of our Pioneers would remain footnotes in history if their names were known at all,” said Chabrian. “Inducting these women into our Pioneer Hall of Fame gives them international attention and ensures their accomplishments will not be forgotten.”
Many sister organizations also used the WAI conference as a venue for awarding scholarships and providing outreach. Women in Corporate Aviation (WCA) held its annual membership meeting during the WAI conference and awarded more than $17,000 in business aviation scholarships to its membership. The Association of Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM) ran both an IA renewal maintenance clinic and the Girls in Aviation outreach during the conference, as well as awarded more than a dozen maintenance scholarships valued at $120,000. And the Aircraft Owner’s and Pilots Association (AOPA) awarded a $3,000 flight training scholarship. Though most scholarships are awarded to women at the conference, there are some that are awarded to deserving men who apply.
Next year’s 27th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee from March 10-12, 2016. More information is at www.wai.org.