CONCORD, CA (Sept. 13, 2023) — Legends of aviation paved the way for generations to pursue careers linked to the wild blue yonder. And this month, young women will take a deep dive into multiple facets of the aeronautics industry as part of Girls in Aviation Day (GIAD).
The Sept. 23 event at Buchanan Field, a first of its kind in the East Bay, is co-hosted by the Mount Diablo Pilots Association and Women in Aviation International San Francisco-Bay Area Chapter.
Fifty-seven people, ages 6-16, registered for the event. A total of 73 expressed interest ahead of the Sept. 1 deadline, according to organizers.
“I want them to know they are not limited in what they can be or achieve because they are girls,” said event spokesperson Keri Martin.
“They will learn aviation is about so much more than just being a pilot or flight attendant. There are hundreds of opportunities and career paths in the aviation industry, and there are opportunities for every level of education,” Martin added.
Family history in aviation
Among those eager for the experience is Kaydence Dolan, 13, an 8th-grader at Foothill Middle School and a member of Girl Scout Troop 30810. She has grown up learning about aviation from her great-grandfather, who shared stories of his days flying.
Further stoking Dolan’s passion is her grandmother, Diane Samuels, who spoke of the lasting impressions made upon her by her father.
“My earliest memory of flying with him was probably when I was about 4 to 5 years old and he took me out for a spin,” recalled Samuels. “I was terrified – but hooked.
“I was so fortunate to be able to have the opportunities to fly with my father for many years. I have wonderful memories – and some fun stories,” she added.
Dolan said her interest in aviation also was sparked by learning “how Amelia Earhart was able to be a famous pilot at a time when women didn’t do that.”
Variety of activities
The GIAD itinerary will begin like any day at the airport with a customary morning briefing, including safety items. The plan calls for the participants to be divided into five groups and rotate to at least five aviation-related activities: aviation communications, the physics of flying, aircraft assembly and inspection, a moon habitat and a flight simulator. They will have time to talk with and ask questions of individuals representing different aspects of aviation. Pilots, mechanics, inspectors, air traffic controllers and airport operations staff will explain how they became involved in aviation.
In addition, participants will get up-close experiences with aircraft flying in especially for the day. Pilots will be standing by to give them a tour of the aircraft and to answer any questions regarding learning to fly.
Also slated to be on hand is Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis (District 3), whose assignments include serving as the chair of the county’s Airport Committee. Joining Burgis to share remarks with the girls will be Virginia Wimmer, deputy secretary for Women Veterans Affairs at the state Department of Veterans Affairs, and Tifani Bartow, deputy director of Operation and Grants at the state Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
The county Board of Supervisors was set to formally commemorate the event at the Sept. 12 meeting, with a proclamation from Burgis and her co-chair on the Airport Committee, Supervisor Ken Carlson (District 4).
To ensure it is a unique and wonderful experience, the following also are lending support: The Ninety Nines-Bay Cities 99s Chapter, Aviation Personnel International, Hodge Flight Services, Yes Aviation Services, Captain Mama, Isabelle Soloaga and AWAM Chapter 16 Bay Area.
David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.