In a private hangar tucked away at Sky Harbor airport in Webster, Minnesota, 55 young girls were recently inspired to believe they could have a career in aviation.
The event, Taking Girls To New Heights, was put together by Stars of the North, a local chapter of the international organization, Women In Aviation.
Upon entering the hangar, the attendees were given gift bags complete with information about opportunities available in aviation from ACE Camp for youth, right up through a wide variety of aviation-centered careers.
Breakfast was served, giving the attendees time to get to know one another, after which special guest speakers, Delta Air Lines Captain Anne Simpson, and Captain Karen Ruth shared their stories with the group.
"They just inspired these young girls," said Stars of the North president, Air Traffic Controller, Jenny Nietfeld. "We wanted the girls to see these women in professional roles to show them that they can do it, too. You could just see the girl's eyes light up when they saw these positive role models step up into the room!"
Information booths were also available throughout the hangar, staffed by volunteers who shared more detailed information and answered attendees questions on a one to one basis. There were even door prizes for lucky winners.
The goal of Stars of the North is to promote aviation in a practical manner.
"We network, mentor, and help share aviation with all ages and generations," said Nietfeld. "We want to make sure that, what ever point you are at in your life, you can connect with someone who may help you and further you as an aviator.
"We just help connect people. If someone is interested in getting their private pilot's license, we connect them with someone in general aviation. We have several members who fly general aviation only. For example, one of our members is a nurse who has her own airplane. We have members from every walk of life. It's pretty interesting. " Though the international organization, Women in Aviation is female based, they are open to male membership as well. Stars of the North is co-ed.
"We really appreciate the men in our group," said Nietfeld. "It's fun for them to have the tables turned, where they are the minority because, in aviation, they've always been the majority, so it's interesting for them to walk into a group of mostly female aviators."
Other outreach events hosted by Stars of the North include an ACE Camp presentation, Air Traffic Controllers and Pi lot Forum, Interview preparation and Resume Review, and themed gatherings like pumpkin carving in the hangar for families, friends and associates.
Stars of the North has a Facebook page where they post information about their monthly events.
The Taking Girls to New Heights event sponsors were Elliott Aviation (FCM), Crew Outfitters, General Mills, North Star Aviation, Wings Financial, Delta Air Lies, Aerosim, NATCA, Minnesota State University Mankato, ALPA, Endeavor Air, CAP, and all Stars of the North members who made the day possible.
For more information go to the Facebook page: Stars of the North Women in Aviation, Minnesota Chapter.