Girls in Aviation Day held at Flying Cloud
Little girls with big dreams attend annual event held by Stars of the North, the Minnesota chapter of Women in Aviation International.
November 1, 2018
During its fourth annual Girls in Aviation Day, 200 Stars of the North volunteers assisted 1,400 attendees at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie where girls experienced STEM and aviation careers and opportunities.
Stars of the North is the Minnesota Chapter of Women in Aviation International (WAI).
"I think we are so lucky to have such a core group of passionate aviators in Minnesota, willing to put in months of time, or just one day, or even an afternoon to create an opportunity to bring the next generation into aviation," said president of Stars of the North, Sarah Borg.
Girls in Aviation Day is an annual worldwide event, originating from WAI based in West Alexandria, Ohio. The gathering in Flying Cloud location had an exhibitor hall where students from the University of North Dakota and the Mankato campus of Minnesota State University shared experience and expertise with attendees. Representatives of the Air Force, Army, and UTC Aerospace were also among those organizations available to present information on aviation-based career opportunities.
Hands on activities included an education forum developed by Stars of the North member, Ambyr Peterson and Kisha Delain where girls were able to form a sheet of Sheet metal into a heart shape, then rivet it together. Attendees also learned the phonetic alphabet, and how to read a VFR chart.
"It was a great opportunity," said Borg, "the exhibitor hall offered just a little bit of everything. Outside, we had static displays just for girls to see airplanes. For some of them it was their first time to see an airplane up close.
"It's so fantastic to see girls realize opportunities in STEM and aviation they might not have seen before; to see girls running towards a Black Hawk screaming, 'Helicopter!'"
Several EAA pilots also provided Young Eagle Flights, a program offering first flights to kids between 8 and 17 years of age.
Borg, a professional pilot, Certified Flight Instructor, and general aviation enthusiast said volunteers impacted her life as a youngster, steering her in the direction of a career in aviation.
"I know the reason I have my job is because when I was a kid, volunteers created an opportunity for me," said Borg. "I know that for a fact. So, this is a great way for our chapter to pro-duce the next generation that will keep aviation going.
Women in Aviation International, and the Stars of the North chapter is not exclusive to female members.
"The goal is to increase female participation in aviation," said Borg, "Our chapter recognizes we are a group of women in aviation."
That being said, about 35 percent of the Stars of the North membership is comprised of men, including male aviation enthusiasts and professionals. Members of Stars of the North also welcome their own family members, ale or female to participate in family friendly events as well. Time spent in aviation can also be time spent with family.
"Our chapter is completely open to men members," said Borg, "but we realize our primary responsibility, being a niche in the aviation demographic, is to increase female participation in aviation."
Girls in Aviation Day is a very practical approach to showing girls, by example, what is possible in STEM and aviation related careers. One goal for the Stars of the North is establish role models for attendees in their area of interest.
"Maybe one of the reasons some girls shy away from subjects like math as they get into high school is not seeing enough role models," said Borg, "so we're trying to change that."
This year's Girls in Aviation Day was a huge success, creating excitement for next year's event, which will also be open to girls and boys.
"Dawne Barrett has been the event director for three years," said Borg. "Our plans are to continue to evolve the event. We will have different members of our chapter bringing in diverse knowledge and background.
"Every year we've increased attendance, so I know it's working. I think we started with 600 attendees our first year. This event has been constantly evolving and changing.
"I think one of the reasons is because we bring in something new every year. We will continue to try to expand but also within our grasp of volunteers. We want to be able to produce a good event without over-reaching."
Sarah Borg is a firm believer in the power of volunteers to encourage success in young people.
"I am a product of volunteers in aviation, so I hope this circle continues," said Borg. "I attribute the success we have to amazing Stars of the North members who volunteer to help produce this and other events."
Sarah Borg may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.