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Capt. Molly Sanford, a 315th Airlift Wing C-17 pilot, Explains cockpick controls to girls from Charleston-area middle schools during Joint Base Charleston's Women in Aviation Career Day. Almost 130 eighth and ninth-grade girls attended the event, which highlights the various aviation careers for women. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Dukes)

Photo by Michael Dukes

Charleston-area school girls attend Women in Aviation Career Day

27 Mar 2012 | Michael Dukes

About 130 eighth and ninth-grade girls from 19 Charleston-area schools attended Joint Base Charleston' Women in Aviation Career Day March 27, to learn about jobs in aviation from women who work as Reserve pilots, flight nurses, loadmasters, and maintainers here.

The career day is part of the efforts of 315th Airlift Wing and Women in Aviation, an international group that encourages women to seek career opportunities in aviation.
As the girls arrived by the bus load at the base's gate they were greeted by Chief Annie, an eight foot tall inflatable Airman from the 31th Airlift Wing Recruiting Office.

"This is great exposure for the girls to see careers they don't typically think are for women," said Paula Engle, James Island Middle School guidance counselor. "Not only do they get to explore careers, they learn a lot about how to pay for college too.

"It has a 'cool factor,'" 1st Lt. Rachel Ayers, 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, said to the girls as she explained what it's like to be an Air Force Reserve flight nurse. "You feel like you are doing something real important. It's an honor taking care of our military members, especially the war wounded."

"Everyone out here is so motivated and seem to be excited about sharing what they do," said Engle. "Kudos to everyone for making this such a great event."

"The girls' eyes literally light up we they come here," said Meryl Oakley, C.E. Williams Middle School.

Lt. Col. Cheryl Gates, 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron operations officer said that her squadron has actually had a few of the girls who visited as part of the Women in Aviation program that later ended up joining the Air Force Reserve to be part of the AES team.

According to a 2010 statistic from the Federal Aviation Administration, of the nearly 628,000 active pilots in the United States, less than seven percent are women, and women account for only 21.85 percent of the more than 686,000 non-pilot aviation jobs in the United States.

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