May 19, 2014 : By Ted Allen
|A variety of volunteers from Liberty University's SOA assisted at the 2013 'Women Can Fly' event.|
Freedom Aviation Jet Center, the fixed-base operator (FBO) for Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics (SOA), will host a second annual “Women Can Fly” event on Saturday, May 24. The event will take place, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the FBO located at 310 Hangar Road in Lynchburg, adjacent to Lynchburg Regional Airport.
Women and girls ages 8 and older can sign up on site for a pre-flight briefing and a free ride in a private plane operated by a volunteer pilot. They will also be invited to tour Lynchburg’s Air Traffic Control Tower and try their hand at flying in one of Liberty’s state-of-the-art simulators, see inside a variety of aircraft, and hear testimonies from professional women aviators and female students pursuing their licenses.
|Liberty University School of Aeronautics students smile in front of a Commonwealth of Virginia plane on hand for the first event held June 29, 2013.|
The event, co-sponsored by Liberty, Freedom Aviation, the Virginia Department of Aviation, and Ninety-Nines, Inc. (an international organization of women pilots), is designed to cultivate an interest in flying for women of all ages.
Warrenton-Fauquier Airport hosted the first of four “Women Can Fly” expositions this past Saturday and two more are scheduled for June 21 at Hampton Roads Executive Airport and June 28 at Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
Women represent only six percent of the nation’s total pilot population and Liberty University, through events such as “Women Can Fly,” seeks to increase that number. Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dave Young, dean of Liberty's SOA was instrumental in bringing "Women Can Fly" to Lynchburg last summer. The event is in the process of expanding nationally, exposing potential female pilots across the country to the aviation industry and recreational flying.
“Women Can Fly is a newly created volunteer organization,” said Liberty SOA graduate Amanda Spence (’13) who now serves as a dispatcher for the school. “We are pilots and aviation enthusiasts who know the exhilaration of flight, the joy of discovering new horizons, the friendships born of shared visions, with the hope that more women will fulfill their dreams by joining us.”
|Heather Knopp poses with her daughter, Ameliah, in front of a vintage aircraft on display after returning from their free flight on June 29, 2013.|
At last year’s event in Lynchburg, 106 females took flight with nine local pilots, including several SOA graduates. Many of the school's students and instructors volunteered, leading seminars that covered such topics as “how to become a pilot” and “careers in aviation.”
Members of the Liberty Belles, an SOA-sponsored women’s flight team that will compete in the 38th annual All-Women’s Air Race Classic from June 13 in Concord, Calif., to June 18 in New Cumberland, Pa., will also be on hand.
Those interested in learning more about the event can email Spence at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her by phone at (717) 826-3045.