AirSprint is proud to sponsor Girls Can Fly! A Celebration of Women in Aviation
by Matt Beauchamp
One of AirSprint’s key tenents is to be a good corporate citizen. To give back to the communities we live in while also fostering relationships through respect and fairness. That is why we are thrilled to be a sponsor of the Girls Can Fly: A Celebration of Women in Aviation event taking place Saturday, May 11 at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre in Breslau, Ontario.
This important event, aimed at girls of all ages, offers a chance to tour the flight centre, meet female pilots, learn more about the industry and try a free flight.
In the Canadian aviation industry women make up only about five percent of all pilots. In the United States and the UK women make up only about four percent of all pilots. While this number is growing, it’s doing so at a slow pace and with Boeing predicting a need for 635,000 new pilots in the next twenty years, the opportunity for women in the aviation sector has never been greater.
“I was 13 in Air Cadets when I heard about the opportunities available within Air Cadets to pursue a private pilot license scholarship,” said Vancouver-based pilot Nina Shan.
“From there I participated in weekend flying with Cadets and fell in love with it then. The first time I decided I wanted to become a pilot and pursue it as a career was when I flew solo for the first time in a glider plane.”
“My father was always supportive of me becoming a pilot. He would take me to the airport to watch airplanes takeoff and land on the weekends. It was inspiring from a young age to see and hear the planes and wonder where their destination might be,” said Shan.
For pilot Kelsey Nattall, the love of adventuring started at a young age.
“I think the first moments that sparked my interest is when I was still very young, probably around 5 years of age. I was a very active kid and loved to climb trees, I always enjoyed the view from above, and as I became older, I found out there was a job that could continuously give me those views,” said Nattall.
For these women, their love of flying only grew as they got older and their experience has lead them to becoming pilots for AirSprint where Shan currently flies a Embraer Legacy 450 and Nattall flies the Cessna Citation CJ2+.
“My most memorable flight would be my first solo as a glider pilot. I was overwhelmed with excitement and nerves at first, but when I was released from the tow plane at 3000 feet and took my first turn, I knew this was something I could do for the rest of my life,” recalls Nattall.
Shan remembers one of her first flying experiences as stressful but rewarding.
“On my very first flight in a small two-seater aircraft I remember being so scared I didn’t even want to talk to my friends who were congratulating me. The first solo flight is usually about 15 minutes of taxiing and 10 minutes of flying, so it’s not long. I remember telling myself to focus and don’t screw it up. Just have to focus for 25 minutes! It was so nerve wracking and tense but the feeling after shutting down the plane was amazing. Though it was just a short flight I felt like I had just gone through hours’ worth of stress. It was such a rewarding experience,” said Shan.
Ultimately, there is nothing stopping any young girl from becoming a pilot. Toronto-based, Citation Jet+ pilot Karen Smiley, who is originally from Calgary says even though there will be bumps along the way, they are worth it.
“What I love about my career is that I feel I am part of a team. There are going to be good days and hard days. Remember to enjoy the journey because even the hardest struggles are now some of my fondest memories. An open mind, positive attitude, and a healthy work ethic will get you almost anything you want in life,” said Smiley. Sentiments echoed by Nattall.
When Kelsey was asked what would be the top advice she would give girls wanting to pursue a career in Aviation she mentioned to remember that “There is no goal too big or dream too high to achieve. If you put your mind and heart into it, you are already halfway there. Make sure you work hard and don’t let any failures set you back, failure is our best teacher.”
Are you a pilot looking for new career horizons in the world of private aviation? If so, we invite you to click HERE to download the AirSprint Pilot Career Guide. If you want to find out more, visit our career page!
For more information on women in aviation, to talk to female pilots and check out a real flight centre, visit the Girls Can Fly: A Celebration of Women in Aviation event Saturday, May 11 at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre or visit the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre website.
Support Images provided by Nina Shan, Karen Smiley and Kelsey Nattall.