Women welcomed to take off into world of aviation at Victoria Flying Club

 

When news broke of sexist remarks scrawled on an airliner napkin about its female pilot, Victoria flyer Ramona Reynolds didn’t know whether to scoff or send chocolates.

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“Part of me says, ‘I’m surprised we are even having a conversation about this,’ ” Reynolds said.

“But at the same time, it’s great that it has come up because we can have this conversation.”

Reynolds is helping to organize the launch of the Vancouver Island chapter of Women in Aviation, set for Saturday at 1 p.m. in the members’ lounge of the Victoria Flying Club in Sidney.

Last Sunday, a message was left behind on the seat of a WestJet plane arriving in Victoria from Calgary. The plane was flown by female pilot Carey Steacy.

“The cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman,” the note read, in part. “We’re short mothers, not pilots.”

Reynolds, 42, was especially dumbfounded because away from the airport she runs a paralegal business as a lawsuit consultant.

“And in my professional life we just don’t talk like that,” said Reynolds, vice-president of the Victoria Flying Club. “Comments like the ones on that napkin would cost you $50,000.”

Reynolds has been flying recreationally for four years, following in the flight path of her pilot father.

She is gearing up for a Victoria Flight Club challenge to fly to as many airports in B.C. as possible in one year out of a total of 91. Reynolds hopes her 11-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter will tag along for the adventure.

Reynolds said she has received nothing but support and encouragement from men in the world of flying. But she has witnessed sarcasm and noticed that some women do not seem to get the same breaks in aviation as men.

The statistics speak for themselves. In the U.S., only six per cent of commercial and air transport pilots are women.

But Reynolds believes great opportunities exist in meetings such as the one on Saturday and in organizations such as Women in Aviation. Women and girls can find mentorship and encouragement whether they are interested in aviation for fun or a career.

“Every woman I meet in aviation is kick-ass,” she said. “I have yet to meet a dull woman in aviation. And every man I meet in aviation as well. Everybody has great stories.”

On Saturday, she hopes to attract women from all facets of aviation — pilots, flight attendants, ticket agents and ground crews.

She hopes to attract women and girls interested in aviation. Visitors can ride in a flight simulator and even fly in a small aircraft.

The event is open to men. After all, Reynolds said, the best comment she has heard to describe the appeal of aviation came from a male WestJet pilot. “He said, ‘I love airports, I love airplanes and I love airplane people,’ ” she said.

“It’s the people, we are a community.”

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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