Women and girls of all ages

Event encouraging women in aviation at Abbotsford Airport

Women and girls can book flights at the event.

The Langley woman behind a program to encourage more women and girls into aviation has lined up some heavy hitters for The Sky’s the Limit – Girls Fly Too.

The event started in Langley in 2013 and has been moved to the Abbotsford International Airport for more space.

It attracts participation from around the Lower Mainland as well as the northern U.S., and this year’s event is set to take off on Saturday and Sunday, March 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Kirsten Brazier has used her connections in aviation to line up a visit by a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and crew from 307th Bomber Wing.

“The 307th Bomb Wing is looking forward to showcasing the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress aircraft and crew capabilities at such a unique, international diversity event,” said U.S. Col. Robert Burgess, operations group commander, 307th Bomb Wing.

Women and girls can take flights in small aircraft and everyone can explore the displays and on-ground activities.

Brazier has been in aviation for more than 25 years in various types of aircraft, and decided to do something about the dearth of women in the industry.

Out of 25,413 professional pilots in Canada, only 5.8 per cent are women, said Brazier.

Out of 17,278 aircraft engineers, only 2.3 per cent of them are women. Women account for only four per cent of the technical trades and less than three per cent of the top command positions in the Canadian Forces.

“Studies have shown that a common perception persists that aviation, aerospace, marine and defence are industries reserved for men,” she noted.

That’s not going to change on its own, Brazier said.

She organized an event in 2012 at the airport near where she lived in Yellowknife, then continued when she moved to Langley.

The 2017 event will also feature B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, the Delta Police Pipe Band, and NASA Astronaut Heidi Stefanyshyn-Piper.

The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! is the world’s largest outreach initiative to inspire female future leaders in aviation, aerospace, marine and defence, and the free events is held annually during the week of International Women’s Day.

People can go to www.girlsfly2.ca to learn more. Admission is free and there’s no need to register but the first-time flights (on small aircraft) for women and girls require registration. People are given specific times for their flights, due to overwhelming demand.

The flights are offered by supporters of the event.

The event is supported by the McMillan Space Centre, the RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Navy and Army, the U.S. Air Force and Navy, several aviation-related businesses, and community members.