E. Lillian Todd designed and built airplanes beginning in 1906. Helen Richey was the first female pilot for a U.S. commercial airline in 1934. Astronaut Eileen Collins became the first woman Space Shuttle commander in 1997, and Salt Lake resident Nell Bright flew planes during World War II as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

As part of Utah’s observance of National Aerospace Week, Governor Gary R. Herbert issued a declaration declaring Sept. 15 as Young Women in Aviation Day to recognize the achievements of females in the aviation industry and to encourage today’s young women in Utah to seek the appropriate education to contribute totomorrow’s aerospace achievements.

“The designation of Sept. 15 as Young Women in Aviation Day, contributes to Utah’s goal of strengthening the states aerospace sector,” said Governor Herbert. “Utah has a strong history in aerospace and this initiative will ensure we are growing the aerospace industry workforce of the future.”

Governor Gary R. Herbert addressed Utah Aerospace and Defense executives at an Air Force Association, Industrial Associates luncheon today in Layton, where he presented the state’s economic development initiatives with an emphasis on aerospace and defense, and presented this declaration of Young Women in Aviation Day.

Although over the last two decades the number of women in the aviation industry has steadily increased, the declaration explains that only 16 percent of people working in the aircraft, spacecraft and manufacturing industries are female.

The Aerospace States Association (ASA)—of which Utah is a member—was asked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to support National Aerospace Week by establishing this day to acknowledge the contributions of women in aviation. Utah recognizes this action as part of its important STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative to encourage and inspire young women to seek the appropriate education to become women aviators, astonauts and aerospace engineers. It also encourages government, industry, organizations and individuals to inspire and prepare females through quality aerospace STEM curriculum.

In 2010, the Aerospace Industries Association and both houses of the U.S. Congress sought to recognize the contribution of the aerospace and defense industry to the American economy and national security by establishing National Aerospace Week annually as the third week of September. This year, National Aerospace Week falls from Sept. 14-20.