Flight

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. It marks the moment their dream feels achievable. That is why Air Wisconsin encourages and offers its pilots the opportunity to represent the company at events to help inspire and reassure the next generation.

“It’s okay to dream of doing this,” said Air Wisconsin Captain Avreet Randhawa. “When you get in touch with other women who fly, 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 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 become a pilot. “I was 10 when I started saying I wanted to fly.” Avreet ended up getting a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field. In her last year at school, her father reminded her of that faded aspiration and motivated her to earn a pilot rating after graduation. It was a wildly different path than anyone in her family had taken. Still, two months after graduation, Avreet was at Phoenix East Aviation flight school halfway around the world, finally learning to fly.

Air Wisconsin First Officer Trista Higgins credits her mom with affirming her desire to take to the skies. “As a kid, I was always fascinated with airplanes and airline travel, but of course, never saw or knew a female pilot. When I was about eight 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 ways the company works toward that goal.

Captain Avreet Randhawa in an Air Wisconsin CRJ-200.

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.”

We all need encouragement from time to time. If you’re interested in a career as a pilot but unsure where to start, reach out to a local flight school and ask about discovery flights. You’ll takeoff in a small plane flown by a Certified Flight Instructor and know within minutes whether or not flying is for you. Next, “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!”

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

Anyone interested in an aviation career is always welcome to seek advice from Air Wisconsin. Come see us at any event for resume reviews, interview tips, or just to say hello. You’ll likely meet one of our pilots who has been on the same journey you are on now. They would love to help.

You can also reach out to our recruiting team any time at pilotrecruiting@airwis.com, and explore all of our opportunities at www.airwis.com/careers.

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