Women in Aviation International declared September 26, 2015 National Girls in Aviation Day, and Governor Gary R. Herbert has issued a supporting declaration for Utah. The designation calls all Americans to recognize the importance of inspiring and encouraging young women in aerospace education and careers. In conjunction with nationwide celebrations, Utah will host its own event at the Salt Lake International Airport.

Utah has a rich past, present and future of women in aviation careers and education:

  • Alberta Hunt Nicholson learned to fly in Salt Lake City and completed a tour in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. After the war, Nicholson attended the University of Utah to complete her degree.
  • Betty Miller, a resident of Bountiful, Utah, worked for the Civil Aeronautical Administration in Wendover, Utah and was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean.
  • Lisa Berente is a Lt. Colonel in the Utah Air National Guard and is featured in a book about U.S. female military pilots.
  • Susan Horstman currently owns and operates a flight school in Utah. Horstman has a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science and was the first female pilot for commercial airline Pan American World Airways.

In 1960, only 1 in 21,417 women held an “other-than-student” pilot certificate, by 1980 that number was 1 in 4,224, the best it has ever been. As of 2010, the gap had widened and only 5.39 percent of pilots were female. Today, only 16 percent of people working in the aircraft, spacecraft and manufacturing industry are female.

Women have made significant contributions to the aviation industry, and it is important to continue promoting aerospace education and careers to each generation of young women.

“It is important that we expose the next generation of women to aviation,” said Brooke Rogers, President of Women in Aviation International’s Salt Lake Chapter. “Not everyone falls into it; we need a push. This is why we are hosting this event. We want to inspire girls and young women to embark on an aviation career. We need their talents in the industry.”

Women in Aviation International’s Salt Lake Chapter will host a “Girls in Aviation Day” celebration on Saturday, September 26, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at TacAir Hangar 6, located on the general aviation side of Salt Lake International Airport. The event will feature free introduction flights, food, give-a-ways and booths for the Civil Air Patrol, The Air National Guard, SkyDive Utah and many more.