Friday, March 7, 2014

The spectacularly large Coronado Ballroom was the chosen venue for the general session.  The WAI jazz band opened the event by playing a selection of well known tunes including "Do the Eagle Rock."  The Boeing Company generously sponsored the session, and it was incredible to see the number of Boeing employees here attending the Conference when they were asked to stand. 

Joy Bryant spoke about the history of female aviators and gave an excellent overview on what and how women have achieved in aviation.  Joy currently works within the Boeing Space education division.

Dr. Peggy Charbrian spoke of the 82 Chapters that WAI are very proud to have and the growth of WAI to date.  It’s hard to imagine how quickly 25 years can literally fly by!  The diversity of people at the Conference is highly encouraging.  It brings women and men who are controllers, pilots, commercial sector, general aviation, exhibitors, and many more together under one roof.  Whatever questions you may have you can usually find the answer and connect with the correct people you need at the Conference. 

Can you believe at the conference in 1995 there were only five tabletop displays…now there is a room filled with many exhibitors representing a range of aviation areas.  To have 10,000 members worldwide is such an achievement and totally focuses on its members.  Scholarship opportunities started out with two, $500 opportunities, and now there are so many scholarships to choose from and it’s hard to know which to apply for!

Next to speak was Barbara Barrett, an aviation policy official, pilot, and astronaut. Barbara is a very special speaker as she attended the very first Woman in Aviation Conference, back before the term, International was used. Barbara spoke to the general session attendees about the many and varied careers for woman in aviation, giving us a overview of her own career, which culminated with her being No. 2 at the FAA.

Barbara worked alongside the legendary Dr. Sally Ride, who years ago assisted her in getting to Star City in Russia where she underwent her astronaut training and began her aerospace career. She also spoke about her involvement with the Aerospace Corporation and CalTech, which worked with jet propulsion, which was instrumental in the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars. She left us with a wonderful quote from CS Lewis “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman followed. She talked about the NTSB's mission and told attendees that this year is the 100thanniversary of commercial flight and the 85th birthday of the 99s.

—Written by Mel Benson and Deborah Tyzack – Concorde Chapter

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WAI members seek to inspire and stand for encouragement, continued education, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re a lover of all things aviation and aerospace, and enjoy sharing your passion with others, we’d love to have you! Membership includes job search opportunities, scholarship opportunities, access to mentors in your industry, and much more.

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