Despite a snowy start in Dallas, the 26th Annual Women in Aviation, International Conference (WAI) attracted more than 4,700 people from all over the world March 5-7, according to association officials.
“A WAI conference is like no other,” said WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. “This year, we had the same high level of enthusiasm and the same upbeat attitude along with an environment conducive to sharing, mentoring and networking.”
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 WASP.
Long lines in the exhibit hall of pilots attempting to get job interviews were eliminated this year with an enhanced Fast Pass system that allowed conference-goers to sign up in advance for interviews and briefings by airlines, which were held in meeting rooms rather than in the exhibit hall.
Elsewhere in the exhibit hall, conference-goers networked and browsed, bought, or made plans to buy a host of aviation products and services. Friday and Saturday mornings were general sessions with both afternoons reserved for a selection of education sessions.
An expanded program of community outreach – now called Girls in Aviation Day – brought 192 girls and their chaperones from the Dallas metroplex to be introduced to aviation and have hands-on experience. This event took place on Saturday with girls ages 10 to 17 participating in activities ranging from learning to read a sectional chart to building an airport to crafting wire bracelets with the tools and guidance from the Association of Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM).
A career panel gave the girls an overview of the many jobs available in the aviation industry while providing role models for them of women already in these positions. Representatives from colleges and universities with aviation programs were on hand to speak to the older girls.
Other conference highlights include:
- Attendance of 4,572 representatives including 183 international attendees. Representing 16 countries (including the United States), the largest number of international attendees were from Nigeria, Canada, and Cameroon, in that order.
- The Exhibit Hall displayed 151 separate companies and organizations (tying a WAI record for most exhibitors), representing all aspects of the aviation community.
- 125 attendees took part in AOPA’s Rusty Pilot Seminar, including 45 local pilots, while 70 attendees— including 5 local IA’s—received their IA renewal in AWAM’s on-site program.
- 102 scholarships were distributed to WAI members at every stage of life from university students to mature members seeking a mid-life career change to aviation. A total of $606,730 in scholarships were awarded.
The 27th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee from March 10-12, 2016.