How can girls get into aviation technology

International Women's Day 2019 is all about gender balance

On March 8, men and women around the world celebrate International Women's Day. Since the Socialist Party of America organized a Women's Day in New York in 1909, there have been events every year in many parts of the world to raise awareness of women's rights and identify the issues and challenges that affect women and girls. March 8th became the official day of celebration and action after women in the Soviet Union had won the right to vote in 1917. The day was celebrated almost exclusively in communist countries until the United Nations also celebrated 1975 - the International Women's Year. It was not until 1977 that the UN General Assembly asked the member states to make March 8 the official day for women's rights and world peace.

The theme of International Women's Day 2019 is #BalanceforBetter. So the more balanced the relationship between the sexes, the better the world is. How has the aviation industry evolved when it comes to balancing the sexes in the world?

There's still a lot to do in this male-dominated industry. According to the Center for Aviation (CAPA), a 2015 study found that less than five percent of all airline CEOs were women. However, it was also found that more companies are now paying attention to gender equality and a balanced relationship among employees. Air Charter Service (ACS) is one of those companies that really appreciate the contribution of their female employees. The company employs numerous women in management positions and supports the entry of women into the industry.

A good example is Georgina Heron, Director - Private Jets London. She started working for ACS in 2008 after graduating from university and now manages a team of 25 account managers, each with their own client portfolio. Her advice to women who want to make a career in aviation: “Work hard, do your best, be proactive and always ready to learn. There are now many more women in the industry. While industry events used to be very male-dominated and looked a bit like a 'boys' club', the relationship is much more balanced today. "

On the shoulders of giantesses: female aviation pioneers

Already at the time when women still wore voluminous clothes and well-designed bonnets, they took off into the air. The first woman to ever fly was Élisabeth Thible, 19, from France. It was 1784, and Thible, dressed like the goddess Minerva, was only too happy to take the place of Count Jean-Baptiste de Laurencin, who was too nervous to take a ride in a hot-air balloon without a tether. After the successful flight, the spectators were shocked to see the top of the balloon burst open when it landed on the ground, and the thick fabric fell on the passengers. One of the inmates freed himself with a knife and wanted to save Thible - but she had long since got herself out of the danger zone, regardless of the prejudice of the fearful woman. The amateur aviator M. Fleurant attributed the success of the ride to Thible, pointing out that she had kept the fire burning throughout the voyage. During the climb she had also sung two duets from the then very famous opera La Belle Arsene by Monsigny.

Neither Thible nor anyone else in the crowd that day could imagine that one day a woman would fly a space shuttle. In a pre-launch interview, Eileen Collins, commander of the space shuttle STS-114, told NASA in 2005: “My heroes are the astronauts in front of me and the test pilots, male and female, who flew in World War II, as well as the women who took the medical tests for the Mercury program. During my time in high school and college, I read about all of these people and they made a very positive impact on me. "

During the STS-114 mission, Collins was the first ever to perform a 360-degree pitch maneuver with a space shuttle. This was necessary so that the crew on board the ISS could take photos of the underside of the shuttle to ensure that there was no danger to the shuttle on re-entry due to damage caused by debris. Collins was the first female astronaut to pilot the space shuttle Discovery STS-63 in 1995, which was carrying out a so-called rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir. She was also the pilot of the STS-84 mission in 1997 and the first female commander of a US spacecraft on the STS-93 shuttle mission, which launched in July 1999 and put the Chandra X-ray telescope into orbit. Collins has since retired from her career as a NASA astronaut and a colonel in the US Air Force and has received several medals for services to the aerospace industry.

It is women like Collins who inspired future generations to pursue their dreams and continue to make their mark on aviation. Fran Bennett, Global Flight Service Manager at ACS in London, notes that although women are now widely accepted in the industry, old prejudices still prevail.

"It's sad, but in some corners of the world people don't listen to your point of view when looking for a solution to a problem because you are a woman, or because of their culture they think it is wrong for you to be checking- stand in and lift a 100 kilogram bag onto the baggage carousel, while it would go much faster with your help. It happens so often that people call the office and search for 'Mr. Ask Fran ‘or simply not notice me at the airport because they are expecting a man. I think that through the relationships I have built for myself over the years I have been able to gain the trust of customers and suppliers and eliminate these issues in some areas of my professional life. But sometimes I have to work really hard with new customers or suppliers to gain their trust. "

Fran originally started at ACS in 2014 as Senior Manager - Flight Service for Commercial Jets in the London office. After six months at ACS, she became more and more involved in organizing the more complex flights of other offices and training their flight service departments. In January 2018, she was promoted to her current position. Her focus shifted from the everyday business of flights from London to more complex flights, airports and larger individual projects.

Fran's tip to women getting into aviation: “Make sure you know what you are talking about. This will make you more believable and can help break down some of the gender boundaries that unfortunately still exist in some places. Also, ask many, many questions. You can use it to expand your knowledge of the industry. Just give it a try. Once you get into aviation, it will be difficult for you to imagine yourself in any other industry. There is always something new to learn and another problem to solve. Even if you are dealing with the same airlines and customers, no two days will be the same. "

From balloon flight to fighter pilot

Four years after Elisabeth Thible sang arias and fired the hot air balloon in becoming the first flying woman in history, Jeanne Labrosse became the first woman to go on a balloon ride alone. In 1804 she was followed by Sophie Blanchard, who later became a professional aviator. In 1811 Napoleon appointed her head of the air service. However, it took another 92 years for a woman to pilot a motorized aircraft - Aida de Acosta, an American visiting Paris, where she convinced Alberto Santos-Dumont, an airship pioneer, to let it fly.

However, female pilots and aircraft mechanics did not experience their breakthrough until the two world wars. They were led by women like Hélène Dutrieu from France and Princess Yevgenia Schachowskaja from Russia, both of whom were on reconnaissance flights. Sabiha Gökçen from Turkey was the first female soldier to fly a combat mission in 1937. During World War II, women flocked to airfields and cockpits in droves. The Soviet Union had three mainly female regiments that performed combat missions: the 588th Air Regiment night bombers in PO2 biplanes, the 587th Bomber Regiment with PE2 machines and the 586th Combat Regiment, which defended its own airspace with YAK-1.

In the USA it was not until 1942 that women like Jacqueline Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love - sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt - were allowed to serve as pilots in the military. Cochran was responsible for an Army Air Forces Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) that was merged with the Women Airforce Pilots Service (WASP) a year later. This had transferred planes from the factories to air force bases. The members also acted as test pilots and air chauffeurs, dragging targets through the air for anti-aircraft exercises. The unit was disbanded in 1944, and it was not until 1979 that WASP members were granted veteran status.

However, women had to wait until 1990 to officially take their place as fighter pilots in air forces around the world. Sally Cox and Julie Ann Gibson became the first solo pilots to fly for the British Royal Air Force in 1990. In the United States, the ban on women not being allowed to fly combat missions was lifted in 1991, and women were quickly ready. Jeannie Marie Leavitt became the first female fighter pilot and the first woman to command fighter squadrons in the U.S. Air Force in 1993. A year earlier, Lt. Kelly J. Franke was the first female pilot to win the Naval Helicopter Association's Pilot of the Year Award and flew a total of 105 support missions. She is often cited as an example of exceptional achievement in aviation because of her 664.2 incident-free flight hours.

Women have achieved similar masterpieces in other parts of the world. Nina Tapula was the first female military pilot in Zambia. In India, Harita Kaur Deol became the first female military pilot at the age of just 22. Kendra Williams completed Air Force Pilot Training in Zimbabwe in 1996 while Caroline Aigle flew the Mirage 2000-5 for the French Air Force. In 2007, Major Mariam Al-Mansouri was the United Arab Emirates' first female fighter pilot. She said, "Both men and women have the right to work in any field as long as they are loyal, determined and persistent."

Women like Barbara Barrett are passionate about creating more opportunities for women in the military. Barrett's career as an instrument pilot and the first civilian woman to land an F / A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier is remarkable. She was also Vice Chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board and Deputy Administrator of the FAA. As if that weren't enough, she also did astronaut training as a substitute pilot for a space flight from Soyuz flight TMA-16 to the International Space Station.

Women in extreme flight: test pilots and astronauts

The first known test pilot was Ann Baumgartner Carl - part of the WASP unit in World War II. Because of her flying skills, she was transferred to Wright Field Base in Dayton, Ohio in 1944, where she flew the experimental Bell YP-59A jet. A year later, the South African Rosamund Steenkamp flew a Gloster Meteor III in the test stage for the British Air Transport’s Auxiliary Service.

Other women who conducted test flights for Grumman Aircraft during World War II were Elizabeth Hooker, Teddy Kenyon, and Barbara Kibbee Jayne. These brave women started with F6F Hellcats almost directly from the production line. These machines were of great use in the naval war against Japan.

In 1959 the women took a few more cautious steps: Jerrie Cobb, who shipped fighter jets and bombers for the US Air Force to countries around the world, was selected as the first woman to participate in the demanding astronaut selection process. Although she successfully completed all three test phases, she was banned from flights into space because she was female.

Another woman who took part in the pre-astronaut training was Wally Funk. She became the first woman to become an FAA inspector in 1971. Three years later she moved to the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), where she became the first woman to conduct aviation safety studies in 1974.

The first woman in space was a Russian, Valentina Tereshkova. Before the flight, for which Tereschkowa was named as a pilot in 1963, she and four other women underwent eighteen months of training. She spent almost 70 hours in space and orbited the earth 48 times in her capsule, the Vostok 6, but the flight was less smooth than planned. A bug in the spacecraft's automatic navigation software moved the ship further and further away from Earth, but Tereshkova noticed it, and scientists had to quickly write a new algorithm for the landing. Tereshkova smiled throughout this ordeal, when television viewers from the Soviet Union and Europe were watching and not even realizing that something was wrong. She managed to land safely, her worst injury being a bruise on her face. A famous quote from her reads: "If women in Russia can be railroad workers, why can't they fly into space?"

Christina Marmara, Director of Commercial Jets West Coast at ACS in Los Angeles, has not yet been to space - but she has already chartered NASA and has direct experience working with some of the largest corporations, bands and sports teams in the world. She gives women who want to make a start in the industry: “You will learn a lot about yourself - how you deal with pressure, how hard you can push yourself and motivate yourself to achieve a little more. You will meet wonderful people and make contacts in all industries all over the world.

The best thing about the Commercial Jets department is that you work with all kinds of people, sports teams, VIPs, military officials, and people from all over the world. You get insights into film productions, government tenders, A-list events, and you travel all the time yourself, so you become almost like a chameleon and learn to adapt to different environments. There is also a good balance between the routine in the office and the opportunity to leave the desk and be there to see how everything comes together. "

Aviation is becoming commercial - and women are part of it

After their first motor-driven flight on December 17, 1903, everyone knew the Wright brothers. However, very few have heard of Katharine Wright. This extraordinary woman was the sister of Orville and Wilbur. It was thanks to her that the Wrights' business was up and running and that they gathered enough support for the aviation operations by courting the media on their overseas trips and on demonstration flights with her brothers in France in 1909. Wilbur said of his sister: "When the world thinks of aviation, it must also remember our sister." Unfortunately, that was not always the case. Yet despite the lack of recognition, women have been instrumental in turning flying from a novel - and often dangerous - pastime to the preferred means of travel for four billion people a year.

The first woman to regularly fly a U.S. Airmail cargo plane was Helen Richey in 1934. Although she did an excellent job as a co-pilot at Central Airlines, her colleagues refused to let her join their union and told her she could not fly in inclement weather. But nothing could stop Richey from picking up the phone herself, so she resigned and went to Louise Thaden's Air Marking department at the Bureau of Air Commerce. It was not until 1973, when Emily Howell Warner started her job at Frontier Airlines, that a woman was allowed to fly permanently on the scheduled services of a US passenger airline.

In the meantime, and especially in the 1960s, women in commercial aviation were mostly stewardesses (now more gender-neutral, also known as flight attendants). Due to excessive stereotypes, these women were often seen as glamorous and exotic adventurers. But what followed was an ugly culture with pretty women in short skirts who were not allowed to marry or have children if they wanted to keep their jobs, and who retired at the age of 32. Hollywood loved this glittering image of aviation, the novel “Girl on a Wing” by Bernard Glemser was supplemented by the film “Come fly with me” and Frank Sinatra's hit of the same name, as well as the 1976 bestseller “Coffee, Tea or Me?” 1971 a US airline used the slogan: “I am Cheryl. Fly Me. "

By that time, many of these hardworking women had moved on to other commercial aviation jobs.In Australia, Olga Tarling became the first air traffic controller in 1960, as did Yvonne Pope Sintes and Frankie O’Kane in Great Britain. Pope Sintes later became a flight instructor and the UK's first female commercial pilot.

Many women around the world have found themselves on similar career paths. Ada Brown, driven by her own experience as a United Airlines stewardess in 1940, realized that widespread discrimination against stewardesses needed to be recognized and something must be done about it. Together with some flight partners and almost 300 women, she therefore founded the first female union at United - the Air Line Stewardess Association (ALSA). Thanks to Brown's commitment to her colleagues, employees from 25 other airlines are now represented in the union that is now called The Association of Flight Attendants.

Eva Piesiak, Director of Commercial Jets at ACS in Canada, says she is often asked if she is a stewardess when she says she works in the aviation industry and she enjoys breaking the prejudice. She says: “Historically, aviation is a male domain. It was a great challenge to be taken seriously by customers, pilots, airline managers, customs officers, aircraft mechanics or aircraft refuelers. I learned early on how to speak to people in person or on the phone in order to gain respect and be able to do the real job. I've worked hard to be where I am now. And I still find it hard to understand that when I tell someone, male or female, that I work in aviation, everyone asks if I am a stewardess. As if this is the only job society can envision for women in aviation. I am very happy that this is slowly changing. "

Eva, who has a degree in business and specializes in commercial aviation management, has this tip for women considering a career in aviation: “It's an exciting and exciting industry. You will work with some of the most passionate people and learn new things every day. Multitasking and organizational skills are very important in order to have fun in this work and to be successful. Women who sometimes feel that they are not being taken seriously should not give up. Remind yourself that this is just the historical legacy of a male-dominated industry, and that you are part of the change that is already happening. Always be smart and speak smart. "

For every woman who went down in aviation history, there are many more who will continue to do their part at all levels of commercial aviation in the future. One of them is Caroline Werf, who has been with ACS since she started as a cargo trainee broker in 2012. She started in Germany and then went to the UK. In 2014 she took over the management in Germany and built up a team that spanned all ACS departments, including cargo, private jets and commercial jets. In 2015 she was promoted to ACS Country Manager Germany.

Caroline says of her experience: “Cargo charter has historically been a male-dominated business. In the beginning it was a big challenge for me as a woman to convince long-standing customers that I had experience in the field. After proving this and asserting myself, I found that my customers were extremely loyal to me as an account manager. ACS is a great company, you can gain direct experience here, which in turn ensures credibility towards customers. I myself love challenges, which is why I am fascinated by this business every day. "

The aviation industry can neither grow nor get better without women

Few women are still active in the aviation industry. The auspicious development of the 1930s, when the number of female pilots rose by 700 in just five years, has since stagnated because, according to the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, the proportion of women among airline pilots is three percent. In the United States, the proportion of certified female airline and professional pilots in 2014 was five percent, while 25 percent of aerospace engineers and less than six percent of airline management staff were women.

Countries like India and China are much more successful in attracting women as professional pilots. In India, they make up around 11.6 percent of the pilots, and by 2012 China had trained more than 300 female pilots and more than 200 auxiliaries. Other countries and regions actively recruiting women into aviation include Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, and Africa, which featured seven of the top ten fastest growing aviation markets in 2016.

Prejudice based on gender is far from a thing of the past in aviation. As recently as 1991, a passenger refused to fly on a SN Brussels Airlines plane piloted by Barbara Collinet. Three years ago, seven passengers traveling from Miami to Buenos Aires disembarked their American Airlines flight when they found out that the entire cockpit crew was female.

Getting more women into the aviation industry is not only good for gender equality. There is a critical shortage of pilots worldwide. There are 30 percent fewer pilots in the United States today than in 1987. In the past, around 75 percent of airline pilots came from the military; this number has fallen to 33 percent. And there are not only too few pilots in the industry, but also too few mechanics, technicians and airport staff. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), more than 190 airports around the world are “slot constrained”, so they do not have the necessary capacities to be able to serve the traffic demand continuously throughout the day. At the same time, the number of passengers is expected to grow every year - IATA expects it to double to 7.8 billion in the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, there is also an untapped potential. Women could not only alleviate the shortage of pilots in aviation and improve the ability of airports to cope with and cater to the growing numbers of passengers, but also, as in the past, contribute to the technology, training and efficiency of aviation.

Anna Goma Oliva is Director of Private Jets at ACS in Spain. She joined the private jet charter company in 2013 after completing a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and holding positions in several aviation companies. She earned her board position at ACS through hard work and perseverance.

Anna says, “All of my previous jobs were in the aviation industry, but I have to say that I was pretty green when I started at ACS. Even the most efficient brokers are sometimes faced with uncontrollable factors like the weather, but the biggest challenges of my career have all had to do with finding the best solution for my clients and keeping their loyalty. It is important not to give up. It can be tough at first, and sometimes really frustrating, but you have to keep working hard to become a good aviation consultant. Experience makes you a confident and reliable broker. I always try to anticipate all possible occurrences and advise my clients accordingly. Being the best broker in Europe was really exciting. Aviation is my passion and, unlike in previous jobs, I am always motivated at ACS. Last year I even worked until a day before my delivery - it’s clear how much I like my job. I'm almost addicted to it. "

The motto of International Women's Day 2019 seems to have been made for the aviation industry - a world with a balanced gender ratio is crucial for the success of the economy and society.

As Amelia Earhart said, "The most effective way to do it is to do it."

If you are passionate about anything to do with aviation, please contact us regarding the multitude of opportunities we offer aviation students at every stage of their studies.