Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sky-high adventures for females of all ages

Event combines job fair and free flights

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"This is fun! Fun! Fun!"

Three-year-old Cali Lachance had the time of her life 800 feet in the air over St. Andrews Airport Saturday.

Cali and her mother, Susan, took part in the first ever Women Fly, put on by the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of female pilots.

"I'm mostly excited for my daughter, she's never been on any plane," said Susan as the pair walked up to a four-seater Cessna. "We have lots of toy planes at home and I thought this would be a great way to cement what she sees to what she knows."

In the plane, Cali's headset covered half her tiny head. She soon discovered the fun of the microphone.

"Whoa!" cheered Cali. "This is cool! Fun!"

The event also included an aviation job fair to inform visitors of the opportunities in that sector.

Of course, the main draw was the free flights in more than 30 small planes and a helicopter. The pilots were mostly from local clubs, although one volunteer pilot was from Regina.

Organizer Jill Oakes, who has been a pilot for 35 years, said the event was created to attract more women to the industry.

"The stats show that less than six per cent of people that are hired in the aviation industry are women," said Oakes. "Women are just the same as guys, we're all crazy about flying, it's just we don't seem to think about aviation careers as an option."

Oakes said she isn't sure why more women don't fly.

"The guys are really keen to have gals share the passion with them," said Oakes. "It's just not something we think about a lot. I have no idea why."

 

After regularly organizing free rides for kids, two years ago the International Ninety-Nines decided to plan a free-fly day just for women, said Oakes.

"Women are moms and they do all these things for their kids -- they're spending all this time in hockey rinks and stuff and maybe not taking time for themselves, so we thought, 'What about the gals?' All ages, but gals. A treat for themselves," said Oakes.

After a smooth landing and with feet firmly on the ground, Susan was very pleased with the whole experience.

"For the first time flying in a Cessna I was nervous, I'm not going to lie," she said. "It was exciting, it was smooth and it wasn't as scary as I thought. I'm happy to share that with my daughter for the first time."

As for Cali, aviation may be in her future.

"We'll see," said her mother. "It's not the most typical female role to take on, but it'd be nice to have my daughter be a pilot."

steph.crosier@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 10, 2013 A3

History

Updated on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM CDT: corrects typo in cutline

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