Free air time encourages females to take flight in Langley

The skies above the Langley Regional Airport are going to be buzzing with aircraft.

Local flyers have volunteered for free flights for the event The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too.

There are 1,500 seats available on the free flights March 8 and 9, part of the event to encourage women and girls to consider aviation for careers and recreation.

Kirsten Brazier, a longtime commercial and bush pilot who hosted this event in the Yukon last year for 2,300 participants, said seats are assigned to girls and women with priority going to those who have not flown in small aircraft (commercial aircraft flight is not factored in).

And the organizers assign spots either in helicopters or in fixed-wing Navions piloted by members of the Fraser Blues Formation Demonstration Team.

The event is open to the public, and flights are open to girls and women from all over B.C. Now that Brazier lives in Langley Township, she’s hoping to make this event the largest women’s aviation celebration in Canada.

It marks Women of Aviation Worldwide Week and runs 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Advance registration is required for the flights. Register at www.girlsfly2.ca. Admission is free and there’s displays, contests and other activities as well.

“Studies show that one of the major barriers to more women getting involved in aviation and aerospace is the perception that these industries are reserved for men, so they don’t even consider it,” Brazier said. “We want to change that. We want girls and women to seriously think about careers as pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics, or aeronautical engineers.”

People can explore aircraft of various types, as well as airport facilities. They can also learn about women’s aviation history and contributions.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1911, but for women in the aviation and aerospace industries this date has even earlier significance as the anniversary of the first licensed female pilot worldwide, on March 8, 1910.

“This is an exciting opportunity to attract an underutilized sector to a field that has many in-demand jobs,” said Langley Regional Airport manager Guy Miller. “Our airport, for example, is home to 54 businesses and employs over 260 people. There are many opportunities here and in airports around the world, and we look forward to showing local women and girls all that is available to them.”

• During the past few decades, while the percentage of female

doctors, lawyers, and business executives skyrocketed, the percentage of women involved in the sectors of the aviation and aerospace industries remains low and mostly unchanged.

• Fewer than two per cent of aircraft maintenance engineers are women.

• Fewer than six per cent of commercial pilots are women.

• Fewer than three per cent of the Royal Canadian Air Force are women.

• Fewer than 10 per cent of aerospace engineers are women.

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