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EAA Reports From Women in Aviation International Conference

Editor's Note: EAA is an exhibitor at this week's International Women in Aviation (WAI) Conference in San Diego. Staff will be filing daily reports from the conference, including the educational and training seminars, and announcements from exhibitors.

Janice Reid, right, won a pair of EAA AIrVenture passes for this summer's annual event, presented by EAA's Elissa Lines.
EAA's Kathleen Witman hands out flyers at the EAA exhibit booth at the WAI conference.

2008 International Women in Aviation Conference is Largest Ever

March 17, 2008 — The 19th Annual International Women in Aviation (WAI) Conference, which concluded on Saturday, March 15, reported record-setting attendance and exhibitors. "By all accounts, this has been one heck of a successful conference," WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian said.

Attendance for the three-day event reached a new high of 3,320 women (and men) registered. In the exhibition hall, 151 companies and organizations represented all aspects of the aviation community. WAI also awarded $710,855 in scholarships at the event, to members at varying life stages, from college students to those seeking mid-life career changes.

"This is a dynamic time for Women in Aviation, International, as we continue in our mission to spread the word about the passion, excitement, and career opportunities aviation offers to more and more women," Chabrian said.

One of the conference highlights was the announcement of WomenVenture, an EAA/WAI partnership for AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. WomenVenture will feature a series of seminars, speakers, and networking events to highlight women's historical and contemporary role in aviation.

EAA's Elissa Lines, vice-president of commercial and donor relations, said the conference was enriching on several levels. "Speaking to such a prestigious group of women who already believe in and practice networking and mentorship was uplifting," she said. "Our message was simply, 'elevate your life and that of one another.' Aviation for business or fun offers awesome opportunity.the fact is, there are no boundaries you can't overcome if you have focus and desire. You control your destiny. Women can help women achieve their dreams.

"The key thing is that every person I talked to believes in the impact mentors have," Lines continued. "Through WomenVenture, we're trying to coordinate that effort by saying 'Elevate your life-and take another woman with you!'"

Prestigious attendees included Nicole Malachowski, the first woman USAF Thunderbird pilot; Martha King of King Schools, and members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), among others.

Kathleen Witman, EAA Publication's business and special projects manager, staffed EAA's exhibit booth. "About 40 percent of the men and women I spoke with were EAA members, and about 50 percent had been to AirVenture," she said. "When I described AirVenture to people who had never heard of it, it seemed like there was always an Oshkosh veteran nearby to describe the experience firsthand."

Witman said EAA's participation was very positive. "We spread the word about our mission and programs, such as 'Women Soar, You Soar' and WomenVenture, and made contacts with potential new members and exhibitors. We're sure to have many newcomers attending and volunteering at AirVenture 2008." Dates for this year's event are July 28-August 3.

Conference attendees had a lot of good things to say about the event. Many were pleased that more technical and aircraft maintenance sessions were offered this year than in previous years, while others noticed increased general aviation-oriented seminars.

Kathleen Felker of Oceanside, California, and a former WAI scholarship winner, praised the general sessions. "There are people here who have accomplished phenomenal things, extending their hand to help and encourage others," she said.

"Paying it forward" is how NetJets pilot Paulette Gilbert of Chandler, Arizona, described it. A first-time conference participant, she said it's great for people who are looking for jobs. "There are so many people here who will genuinely help others get their feet in the door," she explained.

The conference featured dozens of educational and professional development seminars on such topics as aircraft maintenance, flight safety, history, and aerobatics. Attendees also learned of diverse aviation careers, such as avionics and mechanics, in addition to airline and corporate flying. Representatives from universities with aerospace programs were on hand, along with FAA staff and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI). In addition, several authors, artists, and photographers presented seminars, including EAA's Bonnie Kratz.

Rose Dorcey, left, and Kelly Nelson address EAA members at the Chapter 14 pancake breakfast March 15. Also pictured is chapter President Larry Rothrock.

Publications Staff Visits San Diego EAA Chapter 14

March 15, 2008 — Taking a break from the WAI conference on Saturday morning (March 15), EAA Publications Associate Editor Kelly Nelson and Assistant Editor Rose Dorcey met with members of EAA Chapter 14 at Brown Field (SDM).

The EAA editors attended the chapter's pancakes and sausage breakfast held that morning. After an introduction from Chapter President Larry Rothrock, the editors shared EAA magazine news and requests for chapter activity reports. Attendees also heard a presentation by Robert Griscom, a California lawyer practicing in San Diego who covered FAA Enforcement Actions.

EAA Chapter 14 members will have some more visitors from Oshkosh soon when the EAA B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" arrives for a scheduled tour stop April 4-6 at San Diego's Gillespie Field (SEE). Learn more about the chapter at www.EAA14.org.

Carlie Burton and David Marsh will attend EAA AIrVenture Oshkosh 2008 after Marsh won a pair of passes at the WAI Conference.

AirVenture Ticket Winners at WAI Conference

March 15, 2008 — Two lucky WAI conference attendees departed San Diego with pairs of weekly admission passes for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, scheduled for July 28-August 3. They were David Marsh of Park City, Utah, and Janice Reid, Knoxville, Tennessee.

"Oh yeah, I've heard about AirVenture, how awesome it is," Marsh exclaimed. "They said we've got to go, and then today I found out I won. It will be my first big air show." Marsh, 20, came to the conference when his girlfriend, Carlie Burton, suggested he attend for the networking and job-seeking opportunities the conference provides.

Burton was just as excited about her boyfriend winning the passes, saying, "He better take me [to AirVenture], or he's in trouble!" Both are flight operations students at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Reid is a recruiter for the University of Tennessee's aerospace MBA program in Knoxville, Tennessee. "I'm ecstatic, I'm floored, thank you so much," Reid said. "I'm never this lucky."

NAFI's Trish Deimer works at the association's booth at the Women in Aviation International Conference, just a part of NAFI's increased participation at WAI 2008.

NAFI Plays a Large Role at Conference

March 15, 2008 — The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) has a large and popular presence at the 19th annual International Women in Aviation Conference in San Diego, California. Sandy Hill, vice president of the association, said their presence included three initiatives: the NAFI booth (described by Hill as "flight instructor headquarters"); "Ask the Masters Roundtable"; and the ASA Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic (FIRC), presented by NAFI master instructors.

Hill said he heard positive comments the likes he's never heard about their participation, particularly the 16-hour FIRC, held March 12-13. "Our overall participant critique rating was 4.8 of 5.0," he said.

Why such high marks? Hill said that conference coordinators changed their teaching approach. For instance, NAFI assembled 16 Master-Certificated Flight Instructors (M-CFI) and each presented a one-hour session on an aviation topic. The new roundtable, described by Hill as "similar to speed dating," included 20 tables of 10 people, where conference participants stopped at each one to ask M-CFIs questions; anything from getting started in aviation, career opportunities, finding or becoming a CFI, and women's aviation concerns.

Michelle Bassanese, a CFI for just three months who traveled from Italy to attend, said the roundtable format was great. "I loved it," Michelle explained, "The eye-to-eye contact with those who have gone through what I'm going through was so helpful. I learned from their experiences. The one-on-one format felt like a conversation with friends."

The roundtable was open to anyone who wanted their aviation questions answered, including current and future general aviation pilots.

Hill added he was very happy with the association's participation at the Women in Aviation conference. "The new FIRC format was extraordinary; the FAA was very pleased and impressed. The roundtable met the needs of those who participated. There was a lot of good energy."

WomenVenture Announced at WAI General Session

March 15, 2008 — EAA, in partnership with Women in Aviation International (WAI), announced WomenVenture 2008 to a full house Friday morning during a general session at the 19th International Women in Aviation Conference in San Diego, California. The session kicked off a day of educational sessions and networking for the more than 3,000 conference attendees.

Around the exhibit hall, news of the WomenVenture activities was extremely well received, with dozens of EAA members and non-members alike stopping by the EAA display to find out more and how they could help. (Read more about the announcement.)

Conference attendees are glad to see an increased presence of general aviation at the conference.

"This year (conference organizers) did a lot more for the private pilot," said Jean Scibetta of Lodi, New Jersey. "The CFI roundtable was very nice, and overall it is more general aviation-oriented on the floor."

Rose Dorcey (speaking) and Kelly Nelson presenting at the WAI Conference chapter leadership workshop on March 13.

19th WAI Conference Under Way

March 14, 2008 — Doors opened Thursday afternoon for the 19th annual International Women in Aviation (WAI) Conference at the Town and Country Resort and Conference Center in San Diego, California. The WAI band helped to create a lively atmosphere as the organization's president, Dr. Peggy Chabrian, and her staff cut the ribbon to officially open the exhibit hall.

This year's event boasts a record 151 exhibitors participating, including the FAA, military, various aviation organizations, airlines, universities, and corporate flight departments. More than 3,000 women and men from all facets of aviation are in attendance.

The EAA display in the exhibit hall has seen a lot of activity and visitors, says Kathleen Wittman, EAA Publications Business and Special Projects Manager. "Many EAA members stopped by to say, 'hi,' and several of people expressed their interest to visit Oshkosh," she said. "We saw a lot of first-time conference attendees who were glad to learn more about EAA."

EAA staff will be reporting daily from the conference.

Approximately 350 people attended the pre-conference Military Day tours provided by the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station North Island and the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum Wednesday.

Conference Attendees Tour North Island, USS Midway

March 13, 2008 — Attendees to the 19th annual International Women in Aviation (WAI) Conference in San Diego, California, got an up-close look at military aviation Wednesday at Naval Air Station North Island and the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum. The three-day conference begins today for members of the organization, which encourages women to seek careers in all aviation fields. Approximately 350 people attended the pre-conference Military Day tours provided by the U.S. Navy.

North Island is part of the largest aerospace-industrial complex in the Navy with 23 squadrons and 80 tenant commands and activities based there. Ten active Navy aircraft were available for tours and crewmembers were on hand to talk about their roles. The USS Midway is the longest serving aircraft carrier, with 47 years of service. It was decommissioned in 1992, and opened for permanent display as a museum in 2004.

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