Unicorn No More: Encouraging Women to Fly

Meeting what many in the aviation industry have dubbed ‘a unicorn,’ or a female pilot, makes all the difference to a young girl or woman with aspirations of flight. That is why Air Wisconsin encourages and offers their female pilots the opportunity to represent the company at events to help inspire and reassure the next generation.

“It’s ok to dream of doing this,” said Air Wisconsin Captain Avreet Randhawa. “When you get in touch with other women who do this, they’re very supportive.” She added, “I go to all these air shows because I get to meet people, and I love that. It’s always amazing to share what you’ve gone through… We don’t see a lot of female pilots out there.”

Captain Avreet Randhawa at Sun N’ Fun with Tim Genc, Director of Pilot Recruitment, and Finn Hudson, Pilot Recruiter.

Without the encouragement of her parents, Avreet admits she probably never would have pursued her dream. “I was 10 when I started saying I wanted to fly.” Avreet ended up getting a bachelor’s degree in an IT related field and in her last year at school her father said, ‘you always wanted to be a pilot. Graduate and get your pilot rating.’ It was a wildly different path than anyone in her family had taken, but two months after graduation she was at Phoenix East Aviation finally pursuing her dream. That is in part thanks to the admissions advisor at PEA. She kept in touch with Avreet for a year to answer questions and help Avreet with her decision.

Captain Avreet Randhawa in an Air Wisconsin CRJ-200.

Air Wisconsin First Officer Trista Higgins credits her mom with affirming her desire to fly. “As a kid, I was always fascinated with airplanes and airline travel, but of course never saw or knew a female pilot. One day, when I was about 8 years old, I asked my mom if girls could be pilots too. Without hesitation she said, “Yes!” From that point on, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.”

As one of the few airlines run by a female CEO, motivating women to explore careers in aviation is a pursuit especially close to Air Wisconsin’s heart. Supporting and sponsoring events like Girls in Aviation Day and the Women in Aviation annual conference are some ways the company works toward that goal.

CEO Christine Deister said, “By our words and actions, let’s encourage and mentor our sisters, daughters and other young women by showing them that great aviation careers are accessible and available to them in the same way that we have always taken for granted and assumed that our brothers, sons and young men will pursue those opportunities.”

First Officer Trista Higgins looking up at the tail of a CRJ-200.

We all need encouragement from time to time. If you’re interested in a career as a pilot, but not sure where to start, “make connections and perhaps even find a mentor,” suggests First Officer Trista Higgins. “Do some research and figure out what kind of pilot you want to be. Find the best path for you, then go for it!”

Anyone interested in an aviation career is always welcome to come talk to Air Wisconsin at any event. We offer resume reviews and interview tips. It’s also likely you’ll meet one our pilots who has been on the same journey you are on now. They would love to help.

Reach out to our Pilot Recruiting team any time at pilotrecruiting@airwis.com, and explore all of our opportunities at www.airwis.com/careers.

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