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Flying to Each of the 152 Airports in Quebec to Introduce Girls to Aviation

By Sandrine Gressard, Founder of Girls Go Fly

October 2019 - I am a female pilot. I love to fly. My joy of flying started when I was 5 years old. I sat on a floatplane pilot's lap and got to "fly" for a few minutes. My dream to fly was born that day, and I am a pilot and plane owner today because of that glorious opportunity.

Then this statistic slapped me in the face: Only 6 percent of the world's pilots are women. Even worse, that is the same percentage since 1929. From that shock, a movement was born. Girls Go Fly is dedicated to the dream of flight for women. By taking young women on free flights captained by other women, we hope to:

  1. Instill in young girls the joy and wonder of flight.
  2. Transfer the physical delight of soaring to open their minds and imaginations to soar.
  3. Detail the fantastic opportunities for women in aviation careers.
  4. Combat the cultural bias of women in science and tech careers.

The journey begins in our home province of Quebec. There are 152 airports in Quebec that have at least 2,500-foot runways that can handle our Piper Comanche 250. Over the next two summers, Girls Go Fly will fly into each and every one of them. At each stop, I, as our founder, will personally take 10 young ladies up for a free flight. The plan is audacious, and the logistics are daunting.

Girls Go Fly

The province of Quebec is 530,000 square miles. Some legs will be 400 nm long, with no alternate. The planning of the route, logistics of ground crews and supplies, and strict adherence to safety issues makes this a tremendously complex task. The amount of work needed to accomplish our goals is sobering. However, the joy and excitement this project will deliver will make all the effort and planning worthwhile.

The goal is to increase everyone's awareness about the lack of women pilots and the systemic view that flying is a "man's" job. We are taking the body soaring amongst the clouds to help free girls' imaginations to soar as well.

A study in 2017 by researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University found that survey respondents were generally less willing to fly with female pilots compared to their male counterparts. In a different study at Embry-Riddle, 400 parents across the United States were asked how they would feel about their children becoming commercial pilots. When asked how willing they would be to help their child get through flight school, parents expressed more willingness for sons compared to daughters. Surprisingly, this was particularly pronounced for mothers. Mothers also indicated that they would feel more confident about their son's success and would provide more emotional and financial support for their sons compared to their daughters, according to Forbes magazine.

The world is changing, and yet it often seems to stay the same. For women to excel we need to release the preconceived notions many of us hold. Our society still inculcates in us the idea that women are not genetically predisposed to be successful in the science and tech worlds. Girls Go Fly has been set up to fight that myth and empower women of all ages to pursue their dreams.

Let’s have both boys and girls dream of commanding the sky. For more information or to get involved, please contact Sandrine Gressard, 1-514-607-4987, pilot@girlsgofly.com.

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