The world we live in is constantly changing, constantly growing just as individuals change and grow with it. I have changed, better than that, I have grown so much over the years due mostly to what I have learned about a small group of women. These are women pilots, making up only 6% of the total pilot population.
On a windy day in March of 2011, I found myself caught amidst a flurry of girls and women who had just experienced their first flight in a small aircraft. I cannot recall a day with more smiles and a day that I felt so genuinely happy for those around me. It was then that I set aside all my qualms about my ability to make an impact on the aviation community, because in that moment, I already had.
An often over quoted but underused proclamation by Mahatma Gandhi is, “Be the change you want to see in this world.”
I have heard it quoted to support the fact that one person can make a difference and it is up to you to put that change in motion. It is often believed that you need to be a super hero to make a change in this world. Many think that an average person is not capable of creating change and that one small event will not make a difference. I have seen that change. I have been that change. I experienced what Gandhi meant.
When I moved to Frederick in 2010, I had no connections to the community around me other than my boyfriend and coworkers. However, that quickly changed in the days leading up to my first “Fly it Forward” event.
I was overwhelmed by the response and support from the women and men in the community for this crazy vision I had in my head.
In 2011, the event in Frederick won the title of “Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide” after introducing 185 women to aviation. Our event in 2012 brought more awards and increased that number by almost 60 women. It was such a popular day in our community that registration had to close two weeks early due to overwhelming demand.
Following each event, I received touching feedback from women and girls from all walks of life. Individuals that were once scared to fly now felt empowered. Women who had considered becoming a pilot, now knew how that could become a reality. I had touched hundreds of women’s lives and had in turn felt a major impact in my own. I had found what was truly important to me in aviation – sharing it with others.
I had previously thought that I had to become an accomplished pilot to make a difference in this industry. Organizing these events taught me that all it took was a simple invitation: “Come out to the airport, we’ll show you what it feels like to fly!”
Those close to me know that I am not quick to accept a compliment or boast about my past successes. Dan Pinmentel, publisher and editor of the Airplanista blog, recently described me as “a petite lethal weapon in general aviation’s survival.”
At first I blushed. But do you know what? I am. Or at least I believe that I have the potential to be, but not without your help.
This is why I accepted the position of the United States Team Leader for Women Of Aviation Week and why I set the goal of having one event in each of the 50 states during an inspirational week for all girls and women around the world.
The evidence is in the numbers. We hold the power to grow the female pilot population
If each state is responsible for introducing just 100 girls and/or women to aviation, and if our enthusiasm motivates just 2% of them to become pilots, we can increase the current female pilot population by 10%!
We already have events planned in 14 states; there are just 36 states to go.
Will you step up to make a change?
Will you be the next “lethal weapon” general aviation needs?
Will you take away the title of Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide?
Choose to make a difference within our own community and your own local airport. Join me for Women of Aviation Week 2013!
Victoria Neuville Zajko
United States Team Leader