WomenVenture Success

Ten-thirty a.m. August 1, in AeroShell Square at EAA's AirVenture 2008—anyone there found their way blocked by a sea of pink-shirted women that covered the concrete from the KC 135 Tanker to the Ford TriMotor to the DC-3s. An estimated 1,000 women pilots turned up to be seen and photographed in an effort to set a record as being the largest gathering of women pilots in one place at one time, ever.

"This idea, spawned by EAA consultant Patricia Luebke, has taken off," said Elissa Lines, V.P. of Development for EAA. "We hope that the sheer number of us gathered here today on AeroShell Square will inspire other women and girls to take a chance on aviation, or even just to try out flying for fun, or more."

[sc:ad180 ] So, who was there? Patty Wagstaff, Julie Clark, Debbie Rihn-Harvey, Jill Long, Jackie Warda - all air show greats, stood shoulder to shoulder with Women Airforce Service Pilots who ferried WWII aircraft and trained cadets in the 1940s, as well as engineers such as Anna Mracek Dietrich (Terrafugia) and educators, including Dr. Peggy Chabrian, President of Women in Aviation, International. Mary Grady, from AvWeb, and this reporter, despite her feelings about pink, made the trek to the square, too.

Where did they come from? All over the U.S., and abroad, too. Michelle Bassenesi, a flight instructor, flew in from Rome, Italy, where she teaches, just to be counted. Another flew her 1996 Pulsar (which she built and has flown for 1,000 hours) from Oregon, to be at this show. Two more teamed up and arrived for the first time on their own in a Cessna 172. Denise Waters, an A&P; mechanic and constant presence in the EAA KidVenture tent during the show, came to honor the spirit that drove her to build a Wheeler Express with her father.

And what did they prove? That women who fly (and several who build) do come to EAA AirVenture, and in numbers that can influence the next generation of general aviation pilots, who might just be women, too.

It Is Not All About The Boys

Heard near AeroShell square on the grounds of EAA AirVenture 2008: "This must be the largest gathering of men in bad hats anywhere in the world." Perhaps that is true, but there are plenty of women at this year's air show who are out to make sure that the world knows that guys are not the only people who work and play at aviation.

This year EAA is out to see just how many women really come to the show. They've created a WomenVenture initiative in conjunction with Women in Aviation, International, a non-profit organization that encourages women and girls to fly and pursue careers in aviation. The WomenVenture events include a presentation by FLYING magazine columnist and author Lane Wallace at Theater in the Woods that took place Monday night, several forums on topics that range from "Homebuilding and the Family" to "Women Who Build" and a gathering, first for breakfast Friday morning, and then for a group photo on AeroShell Square.

"The hope is that Friday will be the largest gathering of women pilots ever assembled in one place," says Elissa Lines, EAA vice-president of development, who planned the event with the assistance of Women in Aviation, International. "We hope to inspire girls and women to follow their dreams, just like we have," added Dr. Peggy Chabrian, President of Women in Aviation, International.

For more information about the Friday morning breakfast or the photo opportunity, stop by the Women in Aviation, International booth, 2041-2042, in Hangar B.