The theme for the 20th Annual International Women in Aviation (WAI) Conference, which ended Feb. 28, was “A New Approach for Your Tomorrow,” but the conference’s underlying themes unquestionably were jobs and the economy.
Despite furloughs, fears and dwindling retirement funds, conference-goers appeared to be full of determined optimism about their futures, attendees reported. WAI members who have spent their careers in the aviation industry were quick to assure younger members that the aviation industry operates in cycles and this one, too, shall pass.
“Companies and organizations continue to hire, and we had active career recruiting by many of our exhibitors, especially for mechanics and technicians, but also for pilots, air traffic controllers and other positions as well,” said WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. “Our members and Conference attendees are proactive and steadfast; they are the top-tier candidates that any employer would want to hire.”
Attendance reportedly reached nearly 3,000, including representatives from 15 countries, with exhibits by 125 companies and organizations, representing all aspects of the aviation community. Scholarship money totaling $459,450 was distributed to WAI members, from university students to mature members seeking mid-life career changes.
During the conference, AOPA President Craig Fuller announced that the winner of AOPA’s Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer was Karoline Amodeo, a 25-year-old private pilot from Hopewell Junction, N.Y. and the Experimental Aircraft Association announced that it will continue its partnership with Women in Aviation to hold WomenVenture during EAA AirVenture 2009; the second year for WomenVenture, a weeklong initiative to showcase women’s aviation achievements.
Five women were inducted into WAI’s International Pioneer Hall of Fame, including Jacqueline Cochran, the first woman to break the sound barrier; Patricia Malone, a US Navy WAVE who trained aircraft carrier-based pilots on instrument flight procedures; Ruth Nichols, who holds more than 35 women’s aviation records; Dawn Seymour, the first woman accepted into the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) at Cornell University and who later was chosen for the WASP program; and Anna Timofeyeva-Yegorova, one of the most famous Soviet women to fly in combat during World War II and holder of the Hero of the Soviet Union award.
“This Conference was a celebration of 20 years of Women in Aviation conferences, and a rededication of our commitment to look forward by providing career opportunities for women in all aspects of the aviation community while looking back to recognize and honor the accomplishments of the determined women who made today’s accomplishments and career choices possible,” Dr. Chabrian said.
Next year’s conference will be at Walt Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando, from Feb. 25 to27.
For information: www.wai.org.