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Spring is in the air, and that means it’s time for women and girls to descend on Oshawa Executive Airport for Girls Take Flight 2019.
Now in its sixth consecutive year, the popular event that is designed to spark female interest in aviation and aerospace careers is ready for takeoff on Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Established by private pilot Lesley Page in 2014, Girls Take Flight Oshawa attracted nearly 1,000 people last year. More than 200 first-time flyers had the chance to stretch their wings, taking advantage of free flights offered to those who have never been in a small aircraft.
Presented by the Durham Flight Centre and the First Canadian Ninety-Nines, the largest Canadian chapter of the world’s only international female pilots’ organization, admission to the event is free.
Besides no-charge flights available for women and girls aged eight to 25 (which opened for pre-registration on April 15 and are now fully booked) the event also includes information booths, static aircraft displays, and aviation activities such as building a wooden wing rib or learning to speak the phonetic alphabet.
This year, several aircraft will be on display. Porter Airlines is sending a Bombardier Q400 with an all-female crew. Two helicopters are scheduled to participate, including a CH-146 Griffon search and rescue helicopter from the Royal Canadian Air Force and the “Air1” Bell JetRanger from the Durham Regional Police Service. Several other civilian aircraft will be on display.
Girls Take Flight Oshawa also boasts an impressive list of more than 30 exhibitors who will be on hand to discuss various career options. The event isn’t limited to aspiring pilots, either, with aircraft maintenance engineers, air traffic controllers, RCAF officers and aerospace engineers ready to talk about the many career paths presented by aviation and aerospace.
Anna Rusinowski, public relations and media liaison for Girls Take Flight Oshawa, said a $2,500 flight training scholarship will be offered to eligible female attendees at the event. More information about the scholarship, offered by the First Canadian Ninety-Nines, will be available at the airport on April 27.
The increasing popularity of events such as Girls Take Flight Oshawa, which are designed to attract young people to careers in aviation and aerospace, is certainly a positive sign amidst dire warnings of an impending labour market shortage.
In a March 2018 report, the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace (CCAA) predicted that this country will need 55,000 new workers by the year 2025 to keep pace with industry growth and retirements. Canada’s existing training institutions can only supply about one-quarter of those workers, noted the report, leaving industry to grapple with new ways to attract workers from other industries, countries and demographic sectors.
On National Aviation Day, Feb. 22, 2019, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the national aerospace industry “generates $29.8 billion in annual revenues; represents 211,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada; 140,000 jobs in the airlines, airports and related services industry and five per cent of all jobs in the North.”
He encouraged everyone, “especially youth, Indigenous Peoples and women,” to pursue aviation and aerospace careers.
For more information on Girls Take Flight Oshawa, visit www.girlstakeflight.ca.