At the 27th annual International Women in Aviation Conference, held March 10-12 in Nashville, the association handed out 126 scholarships, topping the $10 million mark since the inception of the scholarship program in 1995.
At this year’s show, 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, according to officials.
A total of $661,234 in scholarships were awarded, which put the total scholarships awarded more than $10 million since the inception of the scholarship program.
Also at the show, British aviatrix Amy Johnson; Brenda Robinson, the U.S. Navy’s first African-American female pilot; Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger and the women of U.S. Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 77-08 were inducted into WAI’s International Pioneer Hall of Fame.
This year, more than 5,000 people attended the show, from 16 countries. The exhibit hall hosted 170 companies and organizations — breaking a WAI record for most exhibitors — representing all aspects of the aviation community.
“Thousands of women made powerful connections this week that will enhance their lives and careers for years to come,” said WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. “Attendees and exhibitors alike agree that we continue to raise the bar for energy, support, enthusiasm and camaraderie.”
For many attendees, a WAI conference means an opportunity to connect with airlines. WAI’s Fast Pass program continues to be enhanced so that preregistered attendees have a timeslot for their interviews, eliminating long lines in the exhibit hall.
At this year’s conference, 4,640 Fast Passes were issued to 2,064 members. The Fast Pass allows conference-goers to sign up in advance for interviews and briefings by airlines, which are held in meeting rooms rather than in the exhibit hall.
Elsewhere in the exhibit hall, companies and organizations remained busy fielding questions, showing off products, signing up new clients, renewing relationships with existing clients, and making connections with conference-goers.
General sessions were held on Friday and Saturday with both afternoons reserved for a selection of education sessions.
WAI’s youth outreach, Girls in Aviation Day, continued in Nashville. Since many of the girls taking part in Girls in Aviation Day are local Girl Scouts, WAI introduced a Girl Scout Fun Patch depicting an airplane with “Aviation Girl” on it.
Nearly 300 participants were introduced to aviation through a dozen hands-on activities, meeting with role models from all aspects of aviation, and luncheon speaker Dr. Rhea Seddon, astronaut and author.
One of the favorite activities for the girls was crafting wire bracelets with tools and guidance from the Association of Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM). In the afternoon, the girls went on a scavenger hunt in the exhibit hall to engage with exhibitors and attendees.
This program will continue with WAI’s global Girls in Aviation Day on Sept. 24, 2016, where local WAI chapters will hold their own events for girls 8 to 17 years old.