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From the Director’s Desk: Girls in Aviation Day 2022

September 27, 2022

Reflecting on this year’s 2nd annual Girls in Aviation Day has made us even more excited for the return of the event next year. This year’s event was bigger and better with more exhibitors and guests. We welcomed nearly two dozen exhibitors to the QC, representing a broad range of careers in aviation: drone pilots, flight instructors, commercial airlines, meteorology, military, fire and rescue, Department of Homeland Security and many more.

The QC Airport partnered with John Deere and Elliott Aviation to join this national day of celebration. Girls in Aviation Day is actually a global event established by the nonprofit organization Women in Aviation International which both celebrates the female aviation pioneers of the past and encourages girls to explore all the opportunities available to them in the aviation industry. The possibilities in aviation are truly endless and that, along with the message that women can, should and do have a seat at the table, is what we hope people took away from the event.

When asked why a day dedicated to introducing girls to aviation is important, we need only to look at the headlines from this past summer about the pilot and crew shortages wreaking havoc on commercial air travel. Less than 10% of pilots, airplane maintenance technicians and airline executives are women and that simply can’t continue if we want to avoid the headaches we’re experiencing today – canceled and delayed flights, reduced air service, can be avoided by diversifying the industry (and making the required education more accessible, which could easily be a whole separate topic of discussion).

We were honored to welcome two special guests this year, Captain Alix Johnopolos and 2nd Lt. Gabrielle Cole, two of only six female pilots with the Illinois Army National Guard. They piloted a Black Hawk helicopter to the event and spoke about their education and career paths. It was inspiring to hear them talk about the commitment they have to being part of the Guard. Captain Johnopolous captured the purpose of the day by saying the event would be a success if just one girl realized they could do something they never thought they could. 2nd Lt. Cole shared her personal journey with that very sentiment. When we asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, 2nd Lt. Cole said she never thought being a pilot was a possibility – and that’s exactly what Girls in Aviation Day seeks to change.

It was amazing to see how many exhibitors were willing to give up their Saturday because they to inspire kids and hopefully create a spark within them. Being able to give back to our community, provide enrichment activities for local students and share our passion for aviation is what makes the QC Airport special. It’s what a regional airport can provide that the larger airports can’t. We have a stake in what happens to the community because it’s our community, too. If you came out to the event – thank you, we hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did. If you couldn’t make it, we hope you’ll make plans to join us next year to experience the excitement first-hand.

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