A Strong, Steady and Successful #WOAW17
Fly WOAW, led by helicopter pilot Dianna Stanger, returned to Del Sol Aviation in Albuquerque, NM to take on the annual Fly It Forward Challenge® presented by the Institute of Women Of Aviation Worldwide. The event was first held at the flight school in 2015.
The Texas-based aviator has single handedly introduced over 2,300 girls of all ages to flying, more than any other pilot, male or female, in the world since embracing the Fly It Forward Challenge® in 2011.
“The opportunity to expose so many to the joy of aviation is what creates the drive for doing this event,” said Dianna. “The satisfaction comes from the smiles when they understand they can do it too.”
The week-long event had a variety of booths and aircraft displays at Del Sol Aviation for participants to experience. Stanger, Del Sol Aviation and Cutter Aviation co-hosted the 2017 event.
Cutter Aviation created a passport for girls to receive a stamp from each of the participating companies, military and organizations which were set up. This was a creative way to encourage the girls to attend each exhibit. Learning experiences were available from Del Sol Aviation, Cutter Aviation, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, New Mexico Department of Transportation, ABQ Air Traffic Control Tower, World Balloon, United Airlines Inflight Services Recruiting, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Air Force Recruiting, Rio Grande Norte Chapter of the 99s, and BBVA Compass Bank.
Aircraft displays included: a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk provided by the New Mexico Army National Guard, a Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk and Bell UH-1N Twin Huey provided by the Air Force, a Beech 99 provided by Ameriflight and a Learjet 35 provided by Air Care One, Inc.
Another highlight was the station where girls could try on various flight suits, fighter jet helmets and sit on an ejection seat provided by a local Air Force lieutenant colonel.
The huge draw was the helicopter, an Airbus H135 along with it’s always-entertaining pilot, Dianna.
“What makes WOAWies exceptional is their dedication to engaging the girls and women in their local community often by the thousands,” said Mireille Goyer, iWOAW President and the recipient of AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying Award in 2011 for founding the breakthrough approach to female outreach. “Dianna Stanger is a star WOAWie. By now, she could have flown around the world. Instead, she chose to introduce 2,399 American girls and women to the world of aviation in their neighborhood.”
The level of dedication it takes to ensure this event is nothing short of a success is one that requires a high level of focus, determination and a large volume of dedicated pilots, volunteers and hours.
Each year Fly WOAW has grown winning over 15 worldwide Fly It Forward® titles while flying at 4 different airports in Texas and 1 in New Mexico.
It’s astounding to think it all started in South Texas with 99 girls in 2011 and nearly doubled its number of participants this year from 2016’s 777 count.
“Not only has the event inspired over 1,100 young ladies and women in 2017 by introducing them to aviation, but once again reminded and united our volunteers who are niched in aviation just how important the industry is to all of us,” said event organizer, Jasmine Gordon, “There were so many strong female role models who were eager to interact with our participants. Something very special happens when they see a young girl’s reaction go from nervousness to excitement. There is much to be proud of.”
Fly WOAW is the only location in 42 countries and 5 continents that host and fly all seven Women Of Aviation Worldwide days. Somehow, unique doesn’t seem like the operative word in this case.
“I left this event excited, inspired, and incredibly thankful! Dianna Stanger shared so much with me during the flight. She was fun and engaging while flying a helicopter. I was blown away,” said Katie, a 2017 WOAW participant who is now planning to take flight lessons. “I also want to commend those staffing the event. Everyone greeted me with enthusiasm and you could tell that the event was just as exciting for them as it was for the participants. Their love for aviation shined through ten-fold.”