Aviadoras’ Take Off!

This Sunday, the official presentation of the Aviadoras platform took place in the Cuatro Vientos Airfield. This platform aims to encourage open-mindness, diversity and equality between female and male pilots within the guild. Around 500 people participated: authorities of the Pilots’ Guild, airlines and associations that campaign for equality. The event’s finale was a fantastic aircraft exhibition by the Infante de Orleans Foundation.

Cerca de 500 personas entre autoridades, aerolíneas y asociaciones por la igualdad asistieron al evento, que concluyó con una exhibición de los aviones de la Fundación Infante de Orleans.

Mach82. Aviadoras finally took off in a multitudinous event celebrated last Sunday, October 1st, in the Cuatro Vientos Airfield, headquarter of the Real Aeroclub of Spain. It was there that Aviadoras presented its objectives and agenda. Aviadoras was born with the hopes of increasing the female presence within the pilots’ guild, where they currently are no more than 3% of the workforce.

Almost 500 people participated in the celebration, including representatives from the Community of Madrid, the City Hall and the Ministry of Development. All of them not only emphasized their commitment to the project, but reiterated the need for projects like this, ones that aim at creating spaces of good-will and equality between women and men.

The President of SEPLA, Javier Gómez Barrero, was in charge of the opening speech where he reminded the audience that “we are still missing women role-models in the world of aviation”, this being one of the guidelines of Aviadoras. “Nobody doubts that society has gone a long way towards equality, but we still have much distance to cover before we actually achieve it” said Isabel Maestre, Director of the Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea. A distance that, according to María Teresa Maldonado, General Director for the Non-Discrimination and Equality Promotion Committee of Madrid’s City Hall, must be covered by walking hand-in-hand for “things change because there are people that, individually or as a group, worry and try to change this world for the better”.

Belén Prado, Vicepresident of the Social and Family’s Policies of the Community of Madrid reminded the public of all the breakthroughs that women have conquered in most professional fields, but regretted that “this is not the case for every career path out there”.

El President of SEPLA, Javier Gómez Barrero

The President of the AEP, Ariel Shocrón, added “For us, flying is not only a job but a way of life and the pinnacle of a career dream. I have always been intrigued by the fact that, in a world that doesn’t discriminate any more between genders when entering into a profession, only 3% of our pilots are women”.

Ariel Shocrón, AEPPresident

Past, Present and Future

The opening speeches where followed by a homage to two very special women who paved the way for all the female pilots. Bettina Kadner, first female, commercial Spanish pilot received a commemorative plaque from SEPLA’s President. Kadner obtained her flying license on 1969 and, from that moment, worked for Spantax and Iberia. She had accumulated over 24.000 flight hours when she retired in 2006. Alongside Kadner, the first female helicopter pilot in Spain back in 1980, Amparo Pagès, also received a plaque. Both awards were given to a standing ovation from the public.

La Viceconsejera de Políticas Sociales y Familia de la Comunidad de Madrid Belén Prado Sanjurjo, entrega las placas honoríficas a Bettina Kadner y Amparo Pagès. A la izquierda, Javier Gómez Barrero.

Aviadoras would like to thank the presence in the event of another pioneering woman: Elisabeth Heilmeyer, the first female handicapped pilot to fly in a glider. Mrs. Elisabeth opened the way for other pilots with disabilities who wished to obtain their licenses.

After the awards ceremony, there was a discussion panel between representatives of different aeronautics’ associations and the general public, moderated by Carmen María García, President of the Women’s Week Association. Vanessa de Velasco, Director of Aviadoras, Rosa Malea, Captain of the Patrulla Águila of the Airforce, Salvador Molina, Telemadrid’s Advisor, Isabel Maestre, Director of AESA, María José de la Fuente, Airbus engineer and Javier Gándara, easyJets Spain and Portugal’s Director all participated in the panel. All of them agreed that, whilst discrimination cases are not as recurrent as before, there’s still much we must do to attain equality.

De izquierda a derecha, Salvador Molina, Rosa Malea, Isabel Maestre, Vanessa de Velasco, Javier Gándara y María José de la Fuente.

FIO’s Flyby

Lastl but not least, the comedian Luismi presented a standup comedy skit poking fun at the stereotypes of aviation. From there the event veered towards a more relaxed and playful atmosphere. The FIO was once again kind enough to open up their exhibitions to all the event attendants, showing its solidarity to SEPLA and to the Spanish Pilots’ Association. The grand finale to the Fundación Infante de Orleans’ historical aircrafts’ flyby was, without a doubt, the Juan de la Cierva y Codorniú Association’s gyroplane, flying at the rear.

Exhibición de aviones de la FIO

Finally, the day finished with a cocktail and a concert by the group 80 Red Necks. Inside the main tent, a flight simulator, courtesy of Simloc Researh, allowed the public to try their hand at piloting a plane. The ADTS company provided several drones for a flyby demonstration, as well as drone-flying simulator for the cocktail hours.

Aviadoras: Integration for Strong Numbers

Aviadoras is an initiative of the Spanish Pilot’s Association (AEP in Spanish) that aims to increase the number of female pilots in aviation. With this project we hope to shed light on the struggle of women and to make it an interesting career choice for young girls. We aim to create an open-minded community, encourage equality and equilibrium within the aeronautics field and promote an atmosphere of mutual understanding among pilots. Aviadoras also believes in providing new generations with positive female role-models, famous historical figures for the most part.

To this end, Aviadoras has launched numerous educational, cultural and research initiatives to promote aeronautical culture through schools, forums, conferences and workshops.

With Aviadoras, we believe in integration and inclusion, for the best results can only be obtained through hard work among both female and male pilots. “The best example of this can be found within the aircraft itself: mixed-gender cabin crews have performed better and have been more efficient than single-gender ones. Our philosophy is exactly that: integration for strong numbers”. Vanessa de Velasco thanked every female pilot that was present in the event, for they are “an essential part of it”, the heart of the project: “To those who came before and that paved the way, to those who are there today, working to change the present, and to those of you who will be here in the future, for you shall receive this wonderful legacy. To all female pilots, I thank you from the bottom of my heart” said Velasco, deeply touched.

La Directora de Aviadoras, Vanessa de Velasco

Supporting Schools, Companies and Institutions

The Aviadoras project has come into being through the support of numerous entities. Public administrations (such as the Community of Madrid and Madrid’s City Hall and the Ministry of Development through the Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea) have shown their commitment and will be launching together several initiatives in the near future. Airlines, suchs as easyJet (main sponsor of Sunday’s activities) and Iberia, and aeronautical leader company Airbus have been fundamental to the success of our event. We must stress the commitment EasyJet has shown through their Amy Johnson project, in which they have made efforts to increase the number of female pilots in their work force.

But not only to these wonderful companies we owe our gratitude, but to all who have helped create this wonderful event. To the Airforce, Banco Popular, Aventia’s pilot school, Alkora Insurance, Sanitas, BP, the Air Traffic Controlers’ Guild, Aerotec School, the Sociedad Aeronautica Española, the Real Aeroclub, the Infante de Orleans Foundation, Simloc Research, ATS Group, the Woman’s Week Foundation, the Personas y Empresas Foundation and to the Juan de la Cierva Codorniú Foundation we offer our sincerest thanks.

The Aviadoras project, alongside the Spanish Pilots’ Association and the Spanish Airlines’ Pilot’s Guild will be forever grateful for all you have done. Without the help of our wonderful sponsors this event, and this project, would not have been possible.