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The sky’s no limit

Brenda Norris photos Two young passengers are in awe as they take to the skies, during an opportunity to fly with a professional pilot. This year, free flights are being offered March 8-9 at Langley Regional Airport in honour of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.  - Brenda Norris photos
Brenda Norris photos Two young passengers are in awe as they take to the skies, during an opportunity to fly with a professional pilot. This year, free flights are being offered March 8-9 at Langley Regional Airport in honour of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.
— image credit: Brenda Norris photos

The thrill of flying is a feeling that Kirsten Brazier has each time she takes the controls and takes off.

Even after 23 years, the celebrated pilot says there is nothing boring about handling an aircraft.

Now, she hopes to share that experience with hundreds of women and girls March 8-9 in honour of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week: The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too!

So far, dozens have signed up to take to the skies over Langley Regional Airport in a helicopter or airplane, including a number from White Rock and Surrey, one of the many places in the Lower Mainland that Brazier, 43, has called home.

“I had my first flight about 23 years ago and I remember it well because I get the same feeling every time I go flying. Also I had the first flight moment in a float plane and a ski plane and in a helicopter – it’s all a discovery,” she said Tuesday.

“This event is so unique in that we take people from the hardware store, the grocery store… impoverished people and every walk of life that you could imagine, so when they get into the aircraft and the aircraft goes off, they’re mesmerized.”

The free event is the third that Brazier has organized, with the other two held in Yellowknife, where she worked and lived before moving to Langley this year.

The aim of the event is to expose women to an industry they may otherwise feel excluded from.

Brazier noted that women make up less than six per cent of commercial pilots, with even fewer women working as aircraft-maintenance engineers.

“It’s not like anyone has been telling girls they can’t be pilots or mechanics, but the reason we do this event is because, over time, if you repeatedly see a guy doing a job like flying an aircraft, grading the runway or fixing an aircraft, then you have a visual impression in your mind which is almost that you can’t do that job without saying it. So you can’t picture in your head, well hey, that could be me,” she said.

“So, over time, the perception is that the trade is for guys.”

While the free flights are for women and girls only, Brazier noted it’s important that the family as a whole attend to provide support for the first-time fliers.

She added there will be a number of interactive educational activities, as well as a flight-line static display of civilian and non-civilian aircrafts, that will be open to the whole family. Flight crews will be on hand both days to answer questions and speak on their experiences.

“We try to have a balance of men and women in aviation,” she said.

The Langley event will be the biggest Brazier has organized and she hopes that people from all over the Lower Mainland sign up and attend.

“When I was in Yellowknife and we took off with our first load of 20 girls and came back, it was amazing. The girls got out of the aircraft and they were beaming and it just affected the whole crowd,” she said.

“And people like me, we beam every time we get airborne.”

Space is limited and pre-registration required. To sign up, or for more information, visit www.womenofaviationweek.org/rsvp/langley/

 

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