Aviation for Girls

2016

Aviation for Girls is a special annual member publication of Women in Aviation International for Girls in Aviation Day. Articles feature young girls living their aviation dreams, career ideas, and education resources.

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AVIATION FOR Girls 2016 19 To apply, students had to submit basic information and write a short es- say about why they wanted to participate. When asked how much aviation knowledge she had going into the program, Abbey replied, "Zero. I knew what an airplane was." The class ran two days a week with Mondays offering time for dual- enrollment coursework for college credit through Embry-Riddle Aeronau- tical University starting at 4 p.m. followed by a build session that typi- cally lasted until 8 p.m., and Thursdays were reserved for building alone from 4 to 6 p.m. Students often ended up staying later to continue their work, driven by their interest and passion for the project. The class, listed on student transcripts as an experimental science course, ran for the school year. When the kit was opened and the students began taking inventory, Abbey was a little overwhelmed. "You see a box of parts and it is like, wow—this is going to be an airplane," she said. The first three weeks of class, students got familiar with sheet metal work—drilling, riveting, and more. Mentors from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and the local aviation community, all with previous ex- perience building RVs, came to assist with the build and teach the students the skills they'd need to complete the project. "I had never used a drill before and didn't know what a rivet was," Abbey said. "Just trying it and not being afraid was the hardest part." In addition to the hands-on work, students learned to read engineering documents and technical communications. In the end, Abbey said nothing was really that tough to learn once she got over being afraid and committed to jumping in and trying it. "I really enjoyed doing the wiring, as hard and complicated as it was at parts," Abbey said. "With only 10 of us we kind of all worked on everything." Just 24 weeks later, the box of parts had become an airplane. Initially Abbey had no interest in flying, but a Young Eagles ride two years ago changed all that. Through her participation in the Eagle's Nest Project she earned 20 hours of dual flight instruction in the airplane built by students the year before. Her instructor was the dad of one of her classmates. When her earned time was used up, she moved her training to De- Land Municipal Airport in DeLand, Florida. In fall of 2016, Abbey will be off to her fresh- man year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and she hopes to have her private pi- lot certificate before she does. As a mechanical engineering major, she hopes to find opportuni- ties to fly in Nashville as well. "I have no idea where I'll be in four years, after college, but I want to stay in the aviation community," Abbey said. "It's so many good people and so much fun. Hopefully one day I'll get my instrument and maybe CFI." Her advice to students looking to explore avi- ation? "Keep your eyes open and say yes to any opportunity that comes your way," she said. "You have no idea if you're ever going to get an opportunity like that again." ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kelly Nelson, WAI 18201, is executive editor for EAA. She is a private pilot and the former direc- tor of communications for WAI.

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