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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedWomen Soar You Soar fulfills its mission
By Rose Dorcey, EAA AirVenture Today

Photo by Rose Dorcey
Olivia Brino and Cassie Donahue enjoy conversation about their aviation goals at a Women Soar You Soar breakfast. The program is designed to inspire young women to pursue their aviation dreams.

July 28, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - Visiting Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the first time, 16-year-old Olivia Brino is certain the visit will help her reach her goal of becoming of pilot.

Olivia came from Kinnelon, New Jersey, to participate in Women Soar You Soar, an EAA program with a mission to engage, inspire, and educate young women, grades nine through 12, to pursue their dreams in aviation and beyond. If you ask Olivia, she would say that the mission has been fulfilled.

“I’m learning about opportunities in aviation and meeting mentors who will spark my interest in aviation even more,” she said.

Olivia knew she wanted to be a pilot at 4 years old, inspired by movies such as Top Gun. She’s now enrolled in ground school, and when she returns home, her flight lessons will begin. She hopes to solo an airplane by the time school begins in September.

After meeting some of the program’s mentors, she’s inspired by their accomplishments and feeling more confident about making some of her own. “The mentors direct us to people we can talk to about our goals,” she said.

Unlike Olivia, Cassie Donahue, 16, of Adel, Iowa, has been coming to Oshkosh with her grandfather since she was five, but she’s a first-time Women Soar You Soar participant. She’s interested in mission aviation and talking with mentors who may be able to offer direction in that area. “Women Soar You Soar offers girls an opportunity to increase their depth of aviation knowledge and career choices,” Cassie said.

That’s exactly what program organizers hope will happen.

“We want these young women to come to Women Soar and meet friends with similar interests, cultivate a relationship with mentors who can guide them along their path, and have a fun and educational three-day camp that opens their eyes to all the possibilities in the area of aviation and high technology careers,” said Audra Hoy, event co-chair. To carry this out, participants interact with college representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. More than 20 mentors from all areas of aviation, including Jessica Cox, a sport pilot who was born without arms, and Major Jill Long, USAF pilot, inspire the girls with messages such as: Limitations are something you put on yourself (Cox) and mud puddles are just opportunities to have fun (Long).

Hands-on workshops and activities, such as building wing ribs, exploring flight controls and aviation weather, and team-building skills at a ropes challenge course are camp favorites. AirVenture air shows and an airplane walk-around with air show performers add another level of aviation education.

Many of the activities (and lodging) take place at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. In its fifth year, Women Soar You Soar is booked to capacity at 90 participants from Canada, Australia, and throughout the United States. That makes program organizers optimistic that it will expand in the future.

“We had a waiting list this year for the camp and we think that’s a sign of how the future of this camp will be,” Hoy said. “It can only continue to grow.”

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