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For the fifth consecutive year, Girls Take Flight Oshawa will be held at Oshawa Municipal Airport on April 21, 2018. The one-day event is aimed at introducing young girls and women to the aviation and aerospace industry. It offers aviation activities, a panel of speakers, a static display of aircraft, and best of all, complimentary flights over Oshawa, Ont.
Founded by private pilot Lesley Page, Girls Take Flight was created as an effort to encourage females to get involved in an industry that has been predominately male.
“We decided to start the event to introduce women and girls to aviation, because only six per cent of pilots are women,” explained Page. “That’s a huge opportunity for addressing the pilot shortage–to target that other half of the population that isn’t being targeted.”
Girls Take Flight started off fairly small in 2014, and the event has grown to host roughly nine female speakers and 20 exhibits. Page said this year the event hopes to provide up to 200 girls and women aged eight to 25 with complimentary flights in Cessna 172s, among other small aircraft–dependent on weather. Mothers, aunts or cousins are encouraged to register to fly with young girls who may be hesitant to fly in a small airplane on their own.
On display at the event will be the Durham Regional Police Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter, a Pitts Special S2 aerobatic aircraft, an Air Georgian Beechcraft 1900D (tentative), and an RCAF glider and towplane (weather dependent). Page told Skies a Hercules CC-130 aircraft from 8 Wing Trenton has been requested for display, but is not yet confirmed.
The event is run entirely by volunteers, and pilots donate their aircraft and fuel to provide girls and women with the experience of flying in small aircraft. While boys and men are welcome to attend the event, the flights are reserved specifically for females.
“The girls who go for the flights–their reactions are awesome,” said Page. “We see them jumping out of the airplane and doing a little dance. The girl who gets to sit [in the co-pilot seat] will usually get to fly the plane a little bit. If they get to fly the plane, they’re over the top. The smiles are incredible.”
The event would not be possible without the 100-plus volunteers, the pilots who contribute their time and aircraft, and the dozen sponsors who support the Girls Take Flight event. Among the sponsors is Porter Airlines, which will bring around 15 female pilots in uniform to the event. Girls in attendance have the opportunity to get their photo taken with these pilots.“It’s absolutely dynamite,” added Page.
Porter is a big supporter of both the event and addressing the current pilot shortage, Page said. The airline also has its own program called Women Soar at Porter to encourage females to enter the industry.
Registration for Girls Take Flight opens April 1, 2018, and is required for the flights only. The event overall is open to everyone, with no registration required.