The Quad Cities International Airport (QCIA), along with John Deere and Elliott Aviation, are aiming high to get girls interested in careers in aviation. The airport will co-host its second annual Girls in Aviation Day on Saturday, Sept. 24, at its cargo facility located at 3200 69th Ave., Moline. The event runs from 10 a.m. […]
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The Quad Cities International Airport (QCIA), along with John Deere and Elliott Aviation, are aiming high to get girls interested in careers in aviation. The airport will co-host its second annual Girls in Aviation Day on Saturday, Sept. 24, at its cargo facility located at 3200 69th Ave., Moline. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Girls, age 5 and older, are invited to join in a day of activities and exploration. “Hosting an event like Girls in Aviation Day is more important than ever,” said Ashleigh Davis, the QCIA’s public relations and marketing director. “Less than 10% of pilots, maintenance workers and airline executives are women according to Women in Aviation International. The pilot and crew shortages that have been in the news all summer demonstrate that the industry must diversify in order to thrive.” While the local event is designed to introduce girls to the growing field, she said it is not exclusive to girls. “We won’t turn anyone away.” Admission is free. The event’s keynote speaker will be 2nd Lt. Gabrielle Cole of the Illinois Army National Guard’s 106th Aviation Regiment, Peoria. She will speak at noon. As one of only six female pilots in the Illinois Army National Guard, she will discuss her journey from being a Princeton University athlete to graduating flight school in March 2022. The event also will include representatives from John Deere, Elliott Aviation, QCIA’s Public Safety, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 75 Quad Cities, Quad Cities Aero, QCIA Airport Services LLC, National Weather Service Quad Cities, Envoy Air Inc., ABLEd (John Deere employee resource group), Women Reach, Illinois Army National Guard, U.S. Marines and REVV Aviation. This year’s Girls in Aviation Day is being co-hosted by the QCIA along with John Deere and Elliott Aviation, both of which have facilities, including hangars, at the airport in Moline. Girls in Aviation Day is a nationwide celebration founded by Women in Aviation International (WAI). It is aimed at introducing girls to all the careers possible in STEM and aviation. “If we don’t introduce these career options to students, the problems we experience as travelers will only continue to grow,” Ms. Davis told the QCBJ. “We have to be intentional about our goal to create a pipeline of talent for aviation so we don’t run into these issues again in another 10 years.” Ms. Davis said the international nonprofit organization, WAI, first introduced the event in 2015. Locally, this year’s event will be in an open house format where participants can walk through exhibits and visit with women representing a wide range of aviation careers. The leaders on hand will talk about how they decided to join the industry and how they got where they are. In addition, Ms. Davis said girls will enjoy hands-on activities, flight simulators, and view the aircraft displayed on site. Registration is required for the event and can be done online here. In 2021, the airport held its first Girls in Aviation Day, a WAI event, which drew about 200 participants including 180 students. Ms. Davis said Girls in Aviation Day also is an example of how the QCIA is working to be a community partner. “We believe that introducing aviation to kids is the best way to spark an interest,” she added. “Aviation is a fantastic community whether you pursue it as a hobby or a career but people aren’t always sure how to get started.”