Air Traffic: A new way to experience aviation
By Kendra Kincade
The Elevate Aviation Learning Centre focuses on inspiring a new generation
By Kendra Kincade
Dreams do come true. That’s the thought that went through my mind when we found out we had been awarded funding for what has now been named The Elevate Aviation Learning Centre. We have been working hard at bringing awareness to women and youth about the wonderful industry of aviation and this next step seems like a natural progression.
One of the main initiatives we have been focused on for the last six years is our cross-country tours. We go across the country and do a one-day free tour in different locations, bringing female students and young women out to the airport for a day. Participants walk away from the tour amazed at this industry that, believe it or not, some say they have never heard of. You would be surprised by how many students say that they don’t even know what aviation means.
We have heard so many times at the end of the tours how people do not want it to end, thus, The Elevate Aviation Learning Centre was born! It is designed to ignite passion and to open up a world of possibility through week-long immersive, authentic learning experiences for students and adults. Through partnerships with industry representatives at Edmonton International Airport (EIA) and NAV CANADA, participants will engage in a week of learning and exploring the possibilities of aviation careers in all shapes and forms.
Learning experiences include presentations, interviews, tours of unique spaces like air traffic control and hangars, as well as hands-on and technology-supported activities like an introduction to drones, flight simulators, aircraft design, and reflective practice through problem-solving and journal writing. Classes began in March 2019 with six weeks designed for high school students and four weeks for adults.
This first year of The Learning Centre, which officially opened on March 4, was financed by the Government of Alberta and the space for the centre was provided for a three-year term by the Edmonton International Airport. More industry support came through industry partners such as NAV CANADA, the Edmonton Flying Club, Canadian North, Royal Canadian Air Force, North Cariboo Air, Absolute Combustion, Aerium, and ACAMP.
Our mission at the Learning Centre is to provide participants with the most authentic, memorable and life-changing aviation experience. We have different weeks for (co-ed) students, women, and Indigenous people. On top of what they will learn about the industry, each participant is also offered assistance on their job applications and given access to a mentor who can offer guidance and advice toward their career in aviation.
I think it’s so important that we continue to show women that not only does the possibility of beginning a career in aviation exists, but that it can also be fun, fulfilling and exciting. The industry is facing massive shortages but women in general don’t consider aviation as a career. Creating more interest about the industry can help alleviate that pressure. Companies know that having women onboard (pardon the pun) is good for business and most are working hard at creating inclusive environments.
Thankfully, there are organizations working hard at making the industry more attractive to women, such as Canadian Women in Aerospace (CWIA), which is part of a global non-profit group, and Northern Lights Aero Foundation. CWIA is holding its annual Canadian Women in Aviation Conference this June 19-22 in Ottawa. We have all heard that women need to see women working in an industry or they don’t feel like it’s an option. In a nutshell, that is what both CWIA and Northern Lights are doing by recognizing and celebrating the achievements of accomplished women in these fields. By doing so, they are putting a spotlight on women so that others can perhaps dream of what they accomplish.
With The Elevate Aviation Learning Centre now open in Edmonton, a program I hope to see expand across Canada, I am dreaming of the lives that will be changed through our dynamic industry. We have already had feedback from women who have become stronger and more confident by entering this field.
Aviation offers a life unlike a lot of other industries. The most-common comments we hear from industry are that no two days are alike; and once you get bit by the aviation bug, there is nowhere else you’d rather be. Well, I believe that there will be a lot more women getting bit by that bug; and that we are working in an enticing time when the industry is opening up their arms and welcoming them in.
Kendra Kincade is an ATC with NAV CANADA and founder of Elevate Aviation.