Monday, April 18, 2016

Girl Scouts Explore Aviation

Although it has been more than 100 years since Amelia Earhart helped to pave the way for women in aviation, in today’s society, only six percent of pilots are female. Working to close the gender gap in aviation, members of the local chapter of The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots, hosted a workshop for more than 40 Girl Scouts on Saturday, April 16 at the Horizon Flight Center at the Chesapeake Regional Airport.

During the workshop, Girl Scouts took part in a variety of activities that taught them about the wide range of career opportunities in the field of aviation. Inside Horizon Flight Center, they first heard from Amy Wiegand, flight school manager at Horizon, who talked about the history of Amelia Earhart, who was the first president of The Ninety-Nines. Wiegand shared that Earhart is her distant cousin and knowing about that piece of her family history piqued her own interest in aviation. The girls also had a lesson in navigation, principles of flight, and weather, and they learned about the importance of communication and how the phonetic alphabet is used.

“Through this event, we hope to give you a taste of flying and the world of aviation,” Wiegand told the Girl Scouts. “Flying challenges you to think independently, and that’s just one of the life skills you learn as an aviator.”

Outside on the tarmac, Renee Brilhante, a flight instructor with Epix Aviation, and Jennifer Riley, a patent attorney with NASA and student pilot, showed the Girl Scouts around a Cessna aircraft, explaining the parts of the airplane and the checklist they go through to inspect the planes before taking off. The girls also had a chance to sit in the cockpit of a Cessna. Before heading back inside, Brilhante talked to the girls about air traffic and right of way for airplanes, as they watched aircraft take off and land at the airport.

Teaching girls about aviation has been priority for Girl Scouts throughout the history of the organization. As early as 1916, just four years after Girl Scouts was founded, girls had the option of earning an Aviation badge. In 1941, Girl Scouts launched the Wing Scout Program for girls interested in flying and wanting to learn about aviation to serve their country. Since that time, Girl Scouts has continued to provide opportunities for girls to explore and discover their interests in a wide variety of STEM fields, including aviation.

The next STEM-themed Girl Scout event will take place on May 14 at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute in Wanchese. This event is open to all girls in grades 6 to 12, whether or not they are currently members of Girl Scouts. For more information and to register, visit

View more photos from the event here.