WOAW Volunteer Pilots Fill the Albuquerque Skies with Free “First Flights”

Volunteer pilot Ramona Cox, right, fills her Cessna T206 with some of the 164 girls she flew at the Albuquerque Fly it Forward Challenge event. (Courtesy photo by Dianna Stanger)

(ALBUQUERQUE, NM) The Women of Aviation Worldwide Week’s Fly it Forward Challenge event in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s International Sunport (KABQ) proved to be an amazing success the week of March 2-8.

The event was sponsored by pilot Dianna Stanger, who flew 441 girls in her EC120 helicopter for four days, and Del Sol Aviation and Cutter Aviation, two companies at KABQ. Other volunteer pilots who played a key role in introducing so many girls and women to flying included Ramona Cox, who flew 164 girls in her Cessna Turbo 206, as well as Bobbie Lind, Zack Hererra, Susan Larson, Lanny Tobbing, and Darrick Coffield.

The successful Albuquerque event won several WOAW Fly it Forward Challenge titles. Stanger won the “Most Dedicated Female Pilot Worldwide” title while Cox won the “First Runner” in that category. Jasmine Gordon was honored with the WOAW Week’s Top Event Organizer award for her work in organizing the event at KABQ and received $ 1,000 for aerospace or communications training given by members of the Institute for Women of the Aviation were offered worldwide. And Alycia Baca, a student from Albuquerque, won the WOAW worldwide art competition.

Albuquerque International Sunport was recognized by WOAW as an aviation community that introduced most of the girls and women to flying in a small plane during the week. No American aviation community has qualified for this title since Dr. med. Frederick won the title in 2011.

During the seven days of Albuquerque’s “Fly it Forward” week, large crowds from Albuquerque schools, local scout troops and the public came to KABQ for inspiration. Gordon and Jodi Preston organized a total of 89 volunteers to fill the massive general aviation promotion event, and the planned coordination between KABQ Air Traffic Control, loading and unloading crews on the ramp, and volunteer pilots kept the operation going smoothly Event.

The weeklong event featured a series of static displays and booths where attendees could learn more about aviation. Eric Auxier, captain of a major US airline, talked about training to become a professional pilot, and Cox, an expert in backcountry flying, explained how she flies her Cessna T-206 into tiny runways in the wilderness. Representatives from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the New Mexico State Aviation Division and other exhibitors were in attendance, and a twin-engine Eclipse 550 business jet was on display indoors.

As the theme of Women of Aviation Week 2015 was “100 Years of Female Pilots in Combat,” there was a significant military presence at the event. Lt. Col. Michele Boyko of the USAF was among the US Forces representatives on Saturday and Sunday to discuss air safety, along with members of the US Air Force’s 550th Special Operations Squadron and the 150th and 58th Special Operations Wings. A USAF HC-130P / N “King” – the only dedicated fixed-wing platform for the recovery of extended range personnel in the Air Force inventory – was also statically displayed.

Many parents said their children enjoyed the aviation event. “I’m pretty sure we have a future pilot in our Scout troop,” said Lisa Gunderson, “thanks for the amazing experience!” And Amy Scott Gibson said, “Thank you very much for bringing this event to Albuquerque! My girls and I had an amazing experience today with our pilot, Ramona Cox. She is an excellent ambassador for women in flight!”

“Being a pilot for this ‘Fly it Forward’ event was more fun than I could ever have imagined,” said Cox. “I’ve flown mothers, daughters and military women and it was amazing to see their faces turn from anxious anticipation to pure joy. I can’t wait for the next year and would recommend the experience to all pilots who have it in their hearts.” to act as such. ” Role models for future generations. “

The Women of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW) is an international event that offers the opportunity to influence women on a very large scale. At “Fly It Forward” events around the world in 2015, volunteer pilots introduced 7,343 girls and women to flight on a small plane, a 28% increase from the final 2014 balance sheet for free flights. Since 2010, the events have carried out 21,656 free “first flights” worldwide.

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