Women in Aviation: Conference 2011, Reno, Nevada

What do you get with a bunch of pilots traveling together? An annoying mob of know-it-alls, spewing random aviation terms in an effort to sound cool— which we are, so the point is moot.
The gang!

Our group from Parks College went to the Women in Aviation International conference in Reno, Nevada. This is different from other aviation events like EAA’s Airventure in Oshkosh, Sun n’ Fun in Lakeland, Florida, or NBAA’s event. WAI conference, or “conference” for short, is a combination of a trade show, networking, and educational seminars. It isn’t as relaxing as the aforementioned, but the energy level is the same.
We briefly explored Reno to find that there isn’t much more than casinos, hotels, and wedding chapels. Although having not been into the city of Vegas, I would gather that Reno is a cheap knock-off— which is fine for a nice mini vacation. But I saw many people sitting at the slot machine, beer and cigarette in hand, wasting away their money. It’s their life, and not mine to meddle and judge.
John & Martha King— classic thumbs up gesture

I met some of my aviation idols: John and Martha King; Rod Machado; and the many new faces that inspired me from the moment I met them. John and Martha are the owners of King Schools, which produces and distributes educational aviation material— always spunky, witty, and funny. (The funny thing is that they are shorter in real life than on their videos). Not only did they sign my logbook, but I also got TWO pictures with them, thumbs up included. Rod Machado is a renowned flight instructor, focusing on the psychology of the human mind and the learning process— I’ve “known” him for years, because he is the voice behind the flight lessons on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: Century of Flight. He signed my logbook “May your landings be as soft as a butterfly with broken feet.” Comical, I tell you!

Putting Parks on the map!

The exhibit booth was my favorite part of the entire trip; such was the heart of many, many networking opportunities. This year, being my freshman and first conference, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that most people bring resumes and business cards for internships and jobs, but I decided to hold off and experience the conference with no pressure— I regret that. At the very least, I should have brought business cards so my new best friends at the airlines could keep in contact. For my eccentric personality, I have no difficulty in approaching and becoming friends with the willing. And for pilots, we all want to talk about ourselves— at Parks and SLU, I don’t find myself spending much time with the aviation community, but at conference, we were all united for one cause.
No, I’m not a woman, but I am in aviation— and it’s important to support the superior gender. I’m sorry, did I say superior? I meant equal (I meant superior). My gender will now stone me to death. My statement is this: I know many, MANY wonderful women, not just in aviation, but in my life overall who have helped develop me into the man that I am— I’d burn a bra for them any day. The scholarships awarded at conference are inspiring and hefty in price. Most, but not all, go to women in a life-changing moment and their career skyrockets. And then several, in the midst of or after their careers, are inducted into the hall of fame. This is no easy feat, because some of the inductees are no longer with us, due to their bravery.

Our group is transitioning from a dull year to a bright one. Much of the previous membership was the senior class, which has, obviously, since graduated. The leadership provided by the two graduate students, Tegan and Sara (insert pun for the musical group here) has been greatly appreciated by those who went to conference— but we’re ready to take it over, and they’re glad.  All of us have great ideas— the next thing we need is implementation and financial support. We consider this our “rebuilding” year— plans for increasing membership, activities, and a general presence on campus are in the works.

First Class and Cinnabon— THE life

And the trip back was exciting. The lot of us prayed to miss our connection to STL from Phoenix— we did. Darn it if the only flight was the red-eye in First Class!! Our two and only girls stayed in Phoenix until Monday evening, and they stayed at the Tempe Four Points by Sheraton Hotel. We sent them off, and watched airplanes from atop a parking garage roof. The serenity of a spooling engine is mesmerizing. I’m sure I’ll have many more moments, but this one sure solidified my life, my passion, my love, and career.

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