Canada’s first female pilot to be honoured during Woman of Aviation Week
Eileen Vollick, Canada’s first female pilot, passed her flight test on March 13, 1928, in Hamilton, Ont. Canadians planned to celebrate their first lady of aviation by conducting record numbers of Fly It Forward flights during Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week 2016 which will conclude on Sunday, March 13.
Since Mireille Goyer, a Canadian airline transport pilot, launched the Fly It Forward Challenge in 2010 to celebrate the centennial of the first female pilot license in the world, Canadian aviation enthusiasts and organizations have responded to the call in huge numbers. As a result, thousands of Canadian girls and women discovered aviation and many chose to make aviation their vocation.
Canadian aviation communities and individuals have consistently shined on the world stage to grab the titles of “Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide,” “Most Dedicated Female Pilot Worldwide,” and “Most Supportive Male Pilot Worldwide” annually.
Eighty eight years after Eileen Vollick’s breakthrough, the percentage of female pilots stands at 6.65% in Canada (versus 5.27% in the United States). 3,803 Canadian female pilots at the end of 2014 may seem a low number in a country with 35 million inhabitants, however the trend is positive.
In a recent correspondence with the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW), Bernard Gervais, COPA’s President, noted that this year’s Neil. J. Armstrong scholarship recipients were young women selected for determination, directed efforts, and plain old fashion passion for aviation.
“The challenge is not so much for women to show interest in aviation but rather for aviation to show interest in women,” noted Gervais.
Indeed, before the Fly It Forward Challenge was launched, flight introduction initiatives failed to recognize that girls would not feel ‘naturally invited’ to such opportunities. Unwillingly, these initiatives reinforced the existing flight introduction gender gap.
Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week and its associated Fly It Forward Challenge, held annually during the week of March 8, anniversary date of the first female pilot license and International Women’s Day, have already made a significant difference in addressing the introduction gender gap in Canada, and in thirty-seven others countries on 5 continents.
“We rise by lifting others,” says Mireille Goyer, iWOAW’s President. “We challenge Canadian pilots to introduce at least 50 girls and women at each Canadian airport during Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week 2016 to close the flight introduction gender gap and help fulfill the dream of Canada’s first lady pilot.”