The “A” team headed south this year! Helicopter pilot, Dianna Stanger; ground crew manager, Steve Plunkett and event organizer, Jasmine Gordon brought the Fly It Forward® Challenge back to Texas collaborating with airport manager, Debora Melvin to host the week-long Fly WOAW event at the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg.
The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) fully embraced the Fly It Forward® Challenge. Six years, five airports and two years in the making this event was deemed for success!
Kicking off the event with an official proclamation from the City of Edinburg, excited young ladies and women prepared to take to the skies the week of March 7th to learn more about the multiple aviation careers available to them.
Word spread quickly and the weekend flights were completely booked two weeks in advance! A new record for Fly WOAW.
“My daughter and I are super excited for this opportunity,” Herica wrote after registering for the event. “She’s never been on a plane and what a great opportunity to be part of this generous event.”
777 girls and women flew during Fly WOAW traveling from as far as Mexico to attend the event with an average age of 19 ranging from 6 months old to 87 years old including 32 Girl Scout troops from the RGV area.
“Planning for the Fly WOAW event for the Rio Grande Valley began two years ago and promised to exceed all expectations. The support the event has received from the local schools, universities, civic leaders and pilots was overwhelming. There is nothing more satisfying than sharing the joy of flying above the valley and making kids believe that they too can do it,” Dianna commented. “Edinburg is a very large community that has welcomed the opportunity for local residents to experience their first flights at their local airport.”
The girls and supporting males were delighted when the Texas Army National Guard, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade took them on a tour of a Blackhawk after their first flight.
“I love this and I want to come here everyday of my life,” wrote a local Girl Scout after having the opportunity to fly with Dianna. After meeting Debora who manages the airport daily, the girls knew it was a realistic goal.
WOAW 2016 may be over but the memory and impact of the girls’ first flight will last a lifetime. The Rio Grande Valley aviation community has been forever changed.
“Just wanted to thank you for getting me involved in Fly WOAW, it truly was an awesome experience,” Bob Carter said, a volunteer pilot from Harlingen.
As the girls exited, three out of five parents asked if the event would be hosted again in following years at Edinburg.
In addition, we have received multiple requests to implement additional aviation programs in the area.
The team’s main goal was to inspire more ladies to become a part of the aviation community. Mission accomplished!
A very special thank you goes out to our volunteers. You’re the best!