WAI2024 Conference Hosts Impressive Number of Attendees & Exhibitors

Posted By: Kelly Murphy 2024 Press Releases,

Three days focused on professional development, education seminars, mentorship, scholarship awards, and Girls in Aviation Day Orlando 

(L to R) Outgoing Board Chair Captain Deborah Hecker and WAI CEO Lynda Coffman at the WAI2024 Exhibit Hall Ribbon Cutting with current and founding board members at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Photo Credit: WAI - Mike Ullery


March 24, 2024– Women in Aviation International held one of its largest and most successful annual gatherings during the 35th Annual Women in Aviation International Conference at Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida, March 21-23, 2024. With its unique blend of world-class speakers, busy exhibit hall, an array of education sessions, and more than 130 scholarship recipients, the WAI2024 conference delivered numerous opportunities to connect and network with female peers in the aviation and aerospace industry. 

"As the largest organization in the world dedicated to increasing the number of women in all aspects of aviation and aerospace, WAI was able to celebrate the strength of our expanding Women in Aviation International community this week during our annual conference," WAI CEO Lynda Coffman said, adding "At every moment during WAI2024, thousands of attendees were able to learn, network, and mentor one another in a venue full of like-minded women who come together to share their passion for aviation and aerospace. We are helping to change the face of aviation, and WAI is proud to support our members throughout their aviation journey with a lifetime of programs." Lynda acknowledged the annual conference representing attendees from a variety of aviation and aerospace careers was an impressive venue to celebrate Women’s History Month. WAI thanks the generous support of sponsors, passionate members, and volunteers.

A highlight of every conference is the induction of women into WAI’s International Pioneer Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include Katherine Johnson, a legendary mathematician of her time and a NASA trailblazer featured in the book and movie Hidden Figures; U.S. Air Force First Undergraduate Navigator Class 78-01, the first female class of six navigator candidates to pave the way for other women in military aviation; U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Flight Nurses, a dedicated group of 500 volunteer flight nurses who served 31 medical air evacuation squadrons at the height of World War II.

Visits to the sold-out exhibit hall were interspersed with general sessions on Friday and Saturday mornings, with dozens of education sessions, professional development seminars, and workshops held Thursday through Saturday where attendees chose which sessions were best for their career goals and personal interests.

During the WAI annual membership meeting, Captain Bart Roberts was approved as a new board member, and Michaela Lucas was re-elected for an additional term and will continue her role as board treasurer. Captain Deborah Hecker, outgoing board chair, and Marci Veronie, board member, were both recognized for their nine-year terms serving the WAI board of directors. Effective April 1, 2024, Kathy Yodice will assume the role of board chair and Shannon Weidekamp will become board vice chair. Linda Markham will continue to serve as board treasurer.

The membership report detailed over 18,000 active members in 120 countries with 1,800 international members and over 5,000 junior members aged 18 years and younger. Both student members (over 3,700) and corporate members (nearly 500) continue to increase.

Girls in Aviation Day Orlando

On Saturday, March 23, 250 girls along with their chaperones, were hosted by more than 100 WAI volunteers, at Girls in Aviation Day Orlando. The girls, ages 8-18, visited nearly 30 activity stations, heard about six different aviation careers from “The Sky is Unlimited” career panel, had lunch with Nicole Battjes, Rainbow Helicopters CEO and owner, met multiple role models, and had fun while they learned about aviation/aerospace. The older girls had the opportunity to meet with representatives about their aviation-focused programs from 14 participants including the military, universities, flight schools, and airline pathways. Each participant earned a WAI Aviation Fun Patch.Other conference highlights include:

  • A total attendance of over 5,200 includes 142 international representatives from 35 countries including Nigeria, Canada, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Brazil, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and others.
  • The WAI Chapter network has reached 180 chapters in 26 countries worldwide representing 140 U.S. chapters and 40 international chapters. Some 42% of WAI members belong to their local chapter.
  • The exhibit hall hosted over 200 separate companies and organizations, representing all aspects of the aviation community, and livestream video coverage on WAI’s new YouTube channel @WAIOnAir.
  • This week, 131 scholarships were distributed to WAI members at every stage of life for academic use, lifestyle enhancement, and flight training, including type ratings. Since 1995, scholarship funders have awarded over $15 million to WAI members.
  • The 36th Annual Women in Aviation International Conference will be held March 27-29, 2025, at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

View all the videos from the WAI Annual Conference in Orlando, including the opening Conference video, 2024 Scholarship Winners, Pioneer Hall of Fame inductees, Girls in Aviation Day 2023 wrap-up, on the WAI YouTube Channel, @WomeninAviationIntl and @WAIOnAir.

Note to Editors: High-resolution photographs of all aspects of the conference are available at bit.ly/WAI2024PressPhotos.

The 36th Annual Women in Aviation International Conference will be held on March 27-29, 2025, at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.