When I was a little girl, I was very fortunate to learn about aviation from my Dad—a Naval Aviator and commercial airline pilot for more than 35 years. He started flying when he was 15 years old, so he wanted me to do the same. I was thrilled to be in the sky and have an aerial view of the world. I became very interested in learning about weather and communicating with air traffic controllers on the radio. It took a lot of hard work and studying but I’ll never forget that day I took my first solo flight and landed back at the airport to see my smiling dad.
The author, pilot Kelly Murphy, flying with her father
I continued to fly as a private pilot during high school and when I came home for college breaks. I majored in communications, and decided to combine my two passions - aviation and writing. I was lucky enough to find a full-time job with a monthly magazine called Professional Pilot. Fast forward many years, and I now work as director of communications of Women in Aviation International, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing year-round resources, mentoring, and scholarships to nearly 14,000 members around the world. While 75% of our members are female, 25% are male representing diverse professions and expertise amongst a wide range of ages and cultures.
The wonderful thing about aviation is there are lots of opportunities to combine your interests and passion. You can be a pilot for airplanes, helicopters, or fighter jets. You can be an air traffic controller that assists pilots during their flights. Do you like to fix things? You can be an aircraft mechanic, or an aerospace engineer. You can manage an airport and ensure its safe operations, or you can explore space and be an astronaut. There are so many options.
Women in Aviation International (WAI) enjoys a special partnership with Princess Awesome and Pourquoi Princesse because we agree that girls of all ages and backgrounds can be anything they want to be.
The WAI mission is to provide opportunities for our members to connect, engage, and inspire one another. WAI offers lots and lots of scholarships every year—in fact at our 30th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Long Beach, California, on March 14-16, 2019, we awarded 156 scholarships to members at every stage of life for both academic use, lifestyle enhancement, and flight training including type ratings.
More than $875,000 was awarded and put the total scholarships awarded since 1995 to over $12 million. Thanks to an anonymous donation, WAI recently announced an additional five training scholarships totaling $21,000 in awards. Applications are due Friday, May 31, and current WAI members can apply online.
WAI also connects members in their local communities with a growing number of chapters - 130 in 19 countries. This chapter network is already making plans to host the fifth annual international Girls in Aviation Day (GIAD) on October 5, 2019.
WAI estimates the program will expand again reaching approximately 18,000 girls, ages 8-17. We welcome anyone with a passion for aviation to get involved and help inspire the next generation of aviators. Find a WAI Chapter near you and attend an event that could be hosted at an airport, museum, or even an airshow.
Have a look at this 3-minute video from Girls in Aviation Day 2018, and you’ll see the fun you can have this fall:
Interested in joining WAI? Check out membership information to find out about all the benefits. Individual membership is $45 per year (or $40 for auto-renewal), and students receive a special discount of $32 per year.
Members can also access and apply for both jobs and internships. This growing section of the WAI website will continue to expand in the type and number of positions available for our unique membership. The website also now features 8 language translations on each page including Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.
In 2020, WAI will host the 31st Annual International Women in Aviation Conference at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Please save the date March 5-7, 2020, and we hope to see you there!
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