Women in Aviation International (WAI) began in 1990 with its first International Women in Aviation Conference was held in Prescott, Arizona and became a nonprofit in 1994. WAI encourages and advances women in aviation and includes astronauts, pilots, maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, educators, flight attendants, airshow performers, airport managers, and others. Membership includes mostly aviation professionals and enthusiasts in the U.S., and high school and college and university students, international and corporate members.
WAI provides resources to assist women and encourage women to consider aviation and related careers, including education outreach to industry, educators and industry members about women such as Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, and many other firsts, Bessie Coleman, the first civilian licensed African-American pilot, Eileen Collins, first (and so far only) female Shuttle commander, Jeana Yeager, who along with co-pilot Dick Rutan, completed the first nonstop, non-refueled flight around the world in 9 days, Nicole Malachowski, the first female Thunderbird pilot, and many others.
Their latest venture, is the Girls in Aviation Day program for girls 8 to 17 (though the promotional material for the first event lists the maximum age as 16), launched on September 26, 2015. WAI sent proclamations to all governors requesting that they declare September 26, 2015 as Girls in Aviation Day, which many states did. Events across the country led several organizations such as the WAI North Texas Chapter and Lone Star Aviators Chapter to collaborate for their event at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, which included panel discussions and a ride on a former American Airlines Flagship Detroit, a restored DC-3 airplane. The “Smithsonian Day” activities included events Such as…
The Florida Memorial University Chapter event included speakers and breakout sessions by topic, such as air traffic control, pilots, airport operations and human resources, and a visit to Endeavor Flight School to learn about the university’s Cessna 172s.
The event was also international, with the WAI Hong Kong Chapter promoting an essay contest for girls on “How Aviation Inspires Me.” The top ten essayists were given a tour of Cathay Pacific’s training center in Hong Kong, including the A300 simulator.
From 2015 to 2017, Girls in Aviation Day was celebrated on the last Saturday in October. However, beginning in 2018, it was moved to October and this year will be celebrated on October 5. A Girl Scout Patch was created in 2016, to be worn on the back of the vest “to show participation and interest in a subject or activity.”
This year, there are events in Australia, Africa (Botswana, Cameroon, South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana), England, India, Spain, and several other countries.
Girls in Aviation Day coincides with the beginning of World Space Week, October 4-10, “to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.” The event was established in 1999 and by 2012, it was “the largest annual space event in the world.” In 2017, there were over 3,700 events in 80 nations, according to the World Space Week Association (WSWA).
That week was selected because it included the date that Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in 1957, and October 10, the day the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, or “Outer Space Treaty” was signed in 1967.
The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the International Astronomical Union, and the Ethiopian Space Science Society organized a workshop on astronomy for secondary teachers in Ethiopia, following a similar in 2011 in Bangladesh. The workshops would help secondary school teachers learn astronomy to include in curricula, including basic astronomy and telescope demonstrations.
The 2019 theme is “The Moon: Gateway to the Stars,” to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing. The 2018 theme was “Space Unites the World,” including “Ladies Do Launch,” a series of panel interviews with women working in the space industries across the United States. There were events in Iran, Thailand, Syria, Lebanon, India, and many other countries.
A few weeks after World Space Week, the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had its first all-female space walk on October 18. To celebrate the event, Delta Airlines flew 120 girls to NASA with an all-female crew. Stephanie Wilson communicated from Johnson Space Center.