March 12, 2014
- A record 4,500 people representing all segments of the aviation community attended the 25th annual Women in Aviation International
(WAI) conference held last week at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
"Our members came out in full force for our 25th anniversary conference, and we signed up a lot of new members," said WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. "Despite many of the military personnel unable to attend due to budget constraints, we had a very active, very upbeat conference. I could never imagine the size of this conference back 25 years ago at our first one in Prescott, Arizona."
Conference highlights included the induction of four new members of the WAI International Pioneer Hall of Fame during the Saturday night banquet. They include Dr. Nancy Currie, NASA Astronaut and mission specialist on the International Space Station; Beryl Markham, author of aviation classic "West with the Night"; Sally Ride, NASA Astronaut and first American woman in space; and Sheila Scott, a British pilot with more than 100 records, trophies, and awards.
Other conference highlights:
There were 241 international attendees, including Nigeria, Canada, and United Arab Emirates, in that order.
The exhibit hall displayed 133 separate companies and organizations, representing all aspects of the aviation community.
Eighty-six scholarships totaling nearly $500,000 were awarded to WAI members.
Organizers put together a time capsule containing publications, products, toys, and other items that will be sealed for 25 years until the 50th anniversary conference. Also included were cards filled out by attendees listing predictions about the aviation community 25 years from now, including "Women will rock the world!", "WAI 25,000 members and still creating awesome opportunities for women in aviation", and "An increase of women in aviation, and moon vacations!"
WAI's third annual "Bring Your Daughter to the Conference Day" was Saturday, drawing 250 girls from age 10 to 17 take part in activities encouraging them to select aviation as a career.
"This was our biggest Daughter Day by far," Chabrian said. "Thanks to our sponsors, we are able to keep the price low at $10 per girl, including lunch, and chaperones attended free." The Sporty's Foundation supplied a sectional chart, a cockpit wall poster, and a logbook for each girl.
The 26th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference will be held at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas, from March 5-7, 2015.