Inspiring a ❤️ for Flying in the Next Generation

Two-hundred women and girls from across Virginia gathered at SHD this past Saturday for the 5th Annual Women Can Fly event. Women Can Fly is a state-wide initiative in partnership with the Virginia Department of Aviation that offers women and girls of all ages a chance to experience and explore career paths and recreational opportunities in the aviation industry.

Did you know currently only 7% of pilots are women? Pilot shortages combined with under-representation of women in aviation makes Women Can Fly an important catalyst for inspiring future female pilots. SHD is one of only five Virginia airports hosting a Women Can Fly event this summer.

The highlight of the day was a chance to take to the friendly skies with a volunteer private pilot. Excitement was in the air as participants completed pre-flight training to learn about the physics of flight and important safety information. For many attendees, Women Can Fly provided their first opportunity to experience flying, and the occasion was commemorated with a special First Flight certificate.

Representatives from the Virginia Department of Aviation, Dynamic Aviation, Blue Ridge Aviation, the Blue Ridge Community College Aviation Maintenance Technology Program, AirCare5 Medevac, Shenandoah Valley Chapter of The Ninety-Nines, and the United States Air Force were also on-hand with information and aviation-related resources.

Check out what participants of Saturday’s event had to say about their Women Can Fly experience!

“I grew up around aviation with my dad being a pilot and my mom a flight attendant, but I honestly never thought it was a possible career path for me. I even attended an aviation camp with my brothers as a kid, but I was the only girl there. I didn’t start flight training until after I had already gotten a bachelor’s degree in another field, but now I am just a few months away from being a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). I am always excited to share my love of flight with other females and Women Can Fly is a great way to do that!” – Rachel Riddler, Volunteer Pilot


My mom and I drove here from Haymarket to volunteer our time supporting females in aviation. I have been helping attendees get where they need to go for the pre-flight briefing today and then directing them to the flight sign up table. I wanted to get involved because I am a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, and being in the air is the coolest feeling you will ever have!” – Carmen Duckenfield, age 16, Volunteer   

“The slogan “Women Can Fly” drew me into this event because, yes we can! I love the awareness of aviation opportunities for women this event shares. Today was my first small plane ride, and it was amazing!”– Stephanie Dean, Attendee

“This was a great opportunity for Calli to take her first flight ever. I’m really excited we could do this event together.”
– Chandra Shifflett, Attendee

My favorite part was seeing how small everything is from the air! It was really fun to get to learn about planes and then go take a real flight.” Calli Davis, age 10, Attendee

“I loved the flight. It’s such a different feeling taking off, especially because I’m scared of heights. But for some reason, I felt really safe in the airplane. Women Can Fly has a good message that females can be pilots, and it’s really cool to think about that.”
– Devon Wichael, age 13, Attendee

For media coverage and photos from the 2019 Women Can Fly event at SHD, visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Women Can Fly event and especially all the volunteer pilots who donate their time and knowledge to expose females to the joy of flight!