Nonprofit Introduces Florida Youth To MRO Careers

SoFLY Girls In Aviation Day event
Credit: Luis Pabon/soFLY Southern Tropics

A recently launched chapter of nonprofit Women In Aviation International is boosting interest in aviation and MRO careers for youth in southern Florida.

The Fort Lauderdale-based soFLY Southern Tropics chapter held its first Girls In Aviation Day event on Aug. 26, and it will put on two more events later this month, reaching an estimated 400 local girls between ages 8-17.

The chapter was launched in January 2023 and co-founded by Alyssa Bernkrant, a member of the Aviation Week team. She oversees sponsorship and exhibitor activities at Aviation Week’s global events, including its upcoming MRO Asia-Pacific, MRO Europe and MRO Latin America events.

SoFLY’s Aug. 26 event was hosted by MRO provider FEAM Aero in Doral, Florida. Girls in attendance participated in an airport tour in which they were able to explore two Boeing 747s in both passenger and cargo configurations. In addition to a variety of demonstrations and craft activities, such as making bracelets from avionics wire, the girls also had the chance to learn about MRO careers from women working in technical operations roles. A female aircraft technician from MRO provider TIC Aerospace and a senior base manager for Delta Air Lines spoke to the group about aviation industry career options. Several female technicians from FEAM and AAR also spoke with the girls throughout the day to answer questions about aircraft.

SoFLY Girls In Aviation Day event
Credit: Luis Pabon/soFLY Southern Tropics

"As an organization that employs over 1,000 aircraft mechanics in an industry where only 2.6% of those are represented by women, it's imperative that we empower and introduce females to the aviation industry and encourage them to pursue a career in such," says Kelly Corn, vice president of human resources at FEAM. "It's our belief that engaging with young women early will lead to future higher enrollment rates in aviation maintenance educational programs."

The soFLY chapter will be hosting two more events later this month. On Sept. 23, fixed-based operator (FBO) Sheltair Aviation will host an event in Fort Lauderdale that will include a variety of activities, including aircraft and equipment displays, a fire truck demonstration, a desktop flight simulator and a Mobile STEM Lab. On Sept. 30, FBO Fontainebleau Aviation will host an event in Miami that will feature virtual reality goggles, an aviation scavenger hunt and opportunities for girls to meet a variety of aviation industry employees to learn more about career options.

Women In Aviation International (WAI) formally launched Girls In Aviation Day across its worldwide chapter network in 2015. Last year, there were more than 120 events worldwide with more than 16,000 participants in 19 countries.

Girls In Aviation Day officially takes place on Sept. 23 this year. More than 160 global events in 30 countries are planned and WAI estimates around 30,000 girls will attend.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.