FORTY FORT — The NEPA Girls in Aviation Day 2021 at the Wyoming Valley Airport brought out 50 girls, from six to 15, to the Wyoming Valley Airport to learn about aviation and the opportunities the field provides to both men and women.
The event, in its first year, was sponsored by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of Women in Aviation — a group of about 20 which brings together seasoned pilots, with their younger female counterparts considering aviation as a career option. It is part of a national group which held similar events all over the world Saturday.
Organizers Molly Van Scoy and Ashley Liddic explained that the day-long event consisted of several different “stations,” at which participants learned about different aspects of aviation.
Participants were able to learn about a variety of topics, including the controls of an airplane and how an airport works, utilizing the concept of “STEAM” — science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Several small planes at the event site brought questions from those attending on everything from how many people could fit on a small plane to what they might be used for.
Attendees also got the chance to see planes, flight equipment and airfields up close and personal.
For many, it was their first trip to a small airport and their first experience around small planes.
Women as pilots
Andie Bilbow, 6, of Wyoming, was having fun with a group of friends creating a beaded necklace as she sat among colorful balloons and three airplanes.
The centerpiece of the colorful artwork was an airplane, which she carefully threaded onto craft.
Bilbow, a first-grader, said she had been to several airports before on vacations and trips to the beach.
When asked her favorite airplane, Bilbow picked out a larger black one, forgoing the rainbow themed planes beside it.
Volunteer Ashley Baum, who has several pilots in her family, pointed out that the organization both informs and inspires young people about the opportunities provided in the field of aviation.
Women, she said, make up only 8.6% of 700,000 licensed pilots in the United States, in spite of having played an integral part of the industry’s history.
For example, E. Lillian Todd designed and built an aircraft in 1906 and Helen Richey became the first woman pilot for an American commercial airline in 1934.
The industry, she said, is hoping to soon get to the 10% mark — which will reflect that females are increasingly being embraced in the field of aviation.
Baum pointed out among those teaching at the event was a female commercial pilot and other women with years of experience in aviation.
Baum said she hoped that the field would attract more females, not just as pilots, but in other positions.
She said many people still aren’t comfortable with female pilots, pointing out that until recently, female pilots wore uniforms intended for men.
The Women in Aviation group, she said, not only provided information and activities, but also gave out scholarships to females studying to be pilots.
Participants were provided with a T-shirt, lunch, snacks and a backpack filled with swag, as well as a photo of themselves in an airplane.
For more information about the group, contact Molly Van Scoy at 570-406-7647.