Langley resident Kirsten Brazier’s goal for the new year is a lofty one. She aims to make sure 2,500 females fly for the first time.
Last year, Brazier’s “The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too” event at Abbotsford International Airport saw 1,700 females take their first flights.
“It’s my passion to inspire more females to get into the aviation world. This work is so important, for the past few years I have set aside my own professional flying career in order to bring these special events to thousands with the end goal of improving gender diversity in aviation, aerospace, marine and defence,” said Brazier. She has started a GoFundMe account under GirlsFly2 to help cover the costs associated with organizing such a large-scale event.
More than 15,000 people are expected to descend on the Abbotsford International Airport on March 12 and 13 for the free Girls Fly Too event, the world’s largest aviation outreach show of its kind. She holds three world records for the event.
For two days, 10 helicopters will take first-time fliers up in the sky. The hope, said Brazier, is to get females excited about careers in aviation.
“This year is even bigger and better. I’ve invited the Navy this year, the bomb disposal unit will bring a robot and a bomb suit. RCMP tactical team will be there too,” she said.
“The event takes a hands-on approach to capture the attention of a missing female demographic,” she points out.
There are only around 1,300 female professional pilots in Canada, compared to 23,000 male pilots. The numbers are even more dismal in aircraft engineering and mechanics. In the Canadian Armed Forces, fewer than three per cent of top command positions are held by women.
It’s these low numbers that have irked Brazier since she started flying 23 years ago.
In 2012, while flying helicopters at Yellowknife she got permission from her boss to host a day to fly young women, in an effort to see them bitten by the flying bug. With help, she flew around 200 females.
She brought it to her hometown of Langley in 2014, home to many of her most dedicated volunteers. It was a huge success there but outgrew the landing strips. Last year, she moved it to Abbotsford, home of the Abbotsford Airshow.
If you are able to help, go to girlsfly2.ca.