Inspiring Young Girls in Aviation
Girls from the Milwaukee area were invited to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport to attend the ninth annual Girls in Aviation Day event on September 23, 2023. With Women in Aviation Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter as sponsors, entry was free for youth 12-18 years old.
The objective of the event has been to give girls a look at the many possible careers at the airport. Attendees received access to a Black Hawk helicopter, Air Wisconsin aircraft and museum tours, hands-on activities, giveaways, and opportunities to speak with professionals in aviation and aerospace.
Director of Air Service Development at Mitchell Airport and Private Pilot Pat Row became interested in the field as a little girl through her dad and uncles who were pilots and air traffic controllers. “My dad was a hot air balloon pilot so I kind of grew up in the air,” she said.
“I think there are a lot of opportunities for women. It’s not a career that people commonly experience. If this seems interesting to you, it’s something that you have to actively find out about, the kind of education you need and the programs that are available.”– Pat Rowe
The Start of the Women in Aviation Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter
Joan Kelnhofer, president of Women in Aviation Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter, grew up in Oshkosh in the 70s and was fascinated with aviation after her father took her to an Experimental Aircraft Association event, but didn’t feel encouraged to pursue it.
“It was always something I wanted to do but no one inspired me to get involved in aviation,” she recalled.
Fast forward to 2001, Kelnhofer was an empty nester and began to cross things off her bucket list. She got her pilot’s license in 2006 and started the Women in Aviation Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter with a colleague in 2018.
“Milwaukee is so rich in aviation. So many inspiring people alone come from the Milwaukee area. Kudos to Milwaukee Mitchell Airport because they have embraced this event.”– Joan Kelnhofer
13-year-old Ava Van Oss was most excited to see how the airport works in depth.
“I’ve never seen a helicopter this close so it’s really cool,” said Oss.
Women in Aviation International is all over the world inspiring other women to get into not just flying but all careers in aviation. There are a lot of government areas that want girls participating in this field and there’s money out there to get careers going.
Joy Boyd is a freelance writer with a background in marketing with diversity, equity & inclusion efforts. She has managed digital media platforms for Black empowerment publications and has written biweekly newsletters on topics from self-awareness to retaining talent in local communities. Her goal is to put out positive and educational messaging.