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250 youth to fly above Waterloo Region as part of Girls Can Fly

The passenger terminal at the Region of Waterloo International Airport in Breslau. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Around 250 girls between the ages of eight and 18 will take to the skies over Waterloo Region as part of the Girls Can Fly event at the Waterloo International Airport on May 14.

The free event will also allow those in attendance to tour a Jazz CRJ 900 and Porter Q400, which will be entirely staffed by women.

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In addition, there will be around 30 booths for groups and businesses offering information on the aeronautics world as well as flight simulators.

“And then, of course, for the 250-odd mothers who were real, real, quick on our registration site, they got (their children) registered for one of the seats in volunteer airplanes,” explained Bob Connors, general manager of the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre.

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“They will get about a 20-minute flight around Kitchener.”

The event is not just open to those lucky enough to get flights, with all being welcomed to come as the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre and others attempt to get young women interested in a male-dominated industry.

Connors said there will be at least eight planes involved in providing the flights for the girls as well as a helicopter.

“To the extent that we can, we try to have female pilots,” Connors said. “And certainly there’s lots of female staff, pilots and other from aviation, airlines and so on with us on the ground for the day.”

He said that less than 10 per cent of pilots worldwide are women.

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“Porter a few years ago set their own corporate objective of getting to the point where 50 per cent of their flight crew was female and they’re about halfway there at 25 per cent,” Connors said.

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“And that compares to an international average of between five and seven per cent of top flight crew that are female.

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Connors said the Girls Can Fly event has been around for about eight years, although it took a couple of years off during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He believes that because of the closures, there is a lot of pent-up demand for people and companies to get involved in events like this.

“In previous years we had lots of displays and extended exhibits, but we had to solicit them,” Connors said. “This year people told us that ‘we want to come’ … and that started with Porter. They called first and said, ‘We hear you’re doing girls again and we’re going to bring a plane and we’re going to fill it with female staff. Is that OK?’”

He said that people from Jazz soon followed suit.

“We’ve always asked jazz to bring an airplane and they were never able to do it. And this year they called up and said, ‘Yeah, we’re bringing an airplane.’”

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While there are plenty of fun things to do on the ground, the weather will play a factor as the planes will only take off if it is nice weather.

“The difference between OK and amazing is the weather,” Connors said. “So, cross your fingers for sun.”

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