Did you know that only around 7% of United States-based pilots are women? Though low, this number is fortunately on the rise—thanks in part to equality awareness efforts by Delta Air Lines. On October 5 for the past five years, the airline has marked International Girls in Aviation Day with its WING, or “Women Inspiring our Next Generation,” Flight, a program that aims to inspire girls to pursue careers in aviation.
This year's WING flight flew 120 girls between the ages of 12 and 18 from Salt Lake City to Houston. Fittingly, the flight was operated entirely by women, from the pilots and on-board crew to the air traffic controllers and ramp agents—a move that illustrates WING's mission. “We know representation matters,” Beth Poole, the General Manager of Pilot Development says. “At Delta, we believe you have to see it to be it.”
A plane full of professionals is not all that WING's aspiring aviators saw. Once they landed in Houston, they were invited to explore four NASA sites: the Mission Control Center, Building 9, Johnson Space Center, and Space Center Houston, a Smithsonian Affiliate museum. On top of exclusive tours of the premises, the girls were offered meet-and-greets with mentors from male-dominated aviation workgroups—including lunch with Jeanette Epps, an astronaut and aerospace engineer.
By introducing these students to the inner-workings of NASA—and, most importantly, to the women who help make it all possible—Delta aims to show girls and young women interested in STEM (“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”) that the sky's the limit. And, fortunately, it seems they're on the right path.
“It didn't seem realistic to go after a career in aviation,” remarked Katelyn J., a 17-year-old WING participant,”but today I realized, ‘Hey, I can do this, too.' ”
For its fifth annual WING Flight, Delta Air Lines brought 120 teenage girls from Salt Lake City to Houston.
The flight was entirely female-operated, from “nose to tail.”
Once they touched down, the girls were given tours of four NASA sites: the Mission Control Center, Building 9, Johnson Space Center, and Space Center Houston.
Delta hopes that this program will help encourage girls interested in STEM to pursue careers in aviation.