Women in Flight taking off at NMC
GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) --When you board a plane, and the Captain comes over the loud speaker, chances are you expect to hear the voice of a man. But Northwestern Michigan College and a group of its flight students are working to change that perception. Roughly 6% of all commercial airline pilots are women, but women make up 12% of all flight students at NMC. Both the college and the students currently enrolled hope to the see that percentage increase. With that goal in mind, one of the flight students has spearheaded an effort to bring a new organization to campus.
NMC flight student Kate Hauch knows her way around a cockpit. Her love of flying started long before she enrolled at NMC, but since arriving on campus she has soared to new heights. "Right now I have finished my private and my instrument rating and right now I am currently working on my commercial. I hope to finish that by the end of the summer" explains Kate.
Kate says she has felt nothing but support in the NMC environment. She says she isn’t treated any differently because of her gender, and she points out that the women who do enter the program tend to be outstanding pilots. But she says off campus, she still is surprised by some people’s reaction to her career goals. Kate says "I have talked to people in public and they sometimes take are taken aback, like “oh, you are going to be a pilot? One that flies the big planes?” and I am like yeah, everyone is doing that and women have been doing that for years. It's a little surprising to think that it's 2018 and we are still experiencing that."
To bring more awareness of, and support to, female pilots, Kate and her fellow pilots are starting a Women in Aviation International Chapter at NMC. It will be a network of women with a love of aviation who are ready to mentor, educate and inspire. Anyone is welcome to join, even men, and it doesn’t matter if you have hundreds of hours flying or have never flown in a plane at all. The only requirement to join is that you have an interest in aviation. Kate says Women in Aviation has been around for decades, and has chapters around the world. Members work to promote flying and the opportunities it presents, while at the same time, have a support network and source for information. Kate explains "Whether is owning an aircraft, or insurance, or I want to be a pilot or I am a mechanic, they have all these options and you can just find somebody that's probably been in your shoes and they are willing and open to talk to you about it."
For the current female pilot, a local Women in Aviation chapter, could be a great resource. For the young girl, like Kate was when she first was drawn to a plane, the chapter could open doors that launch a career. Kate says "We want to make this available to everyone. We want to make it more accessible. If you want to learn about this and you are 7 or 8 years old, you get to come check out a plane. You can start thinking about that as something you might be interested in as a career."
The NMC Women in Aviation Chapter will be holding its first informal meeting Thursday, June 7th at NMC’s Aero Park Drive campus in Traverse City. The meeting begins at 3 p.m. and anyone with an interest in aviation is invited to attend. To learn more about Women in Aviation and get more details about the meeting click here.