The flight was the fifth-annual WING Flight, meant to help close the aviation gender gap

By Rachel DeSantis
October 11, 2019 01:25 PM

Delta is soaring to new heights in its efforts to close the aviation gender gap.

In honor of International Girls in Aviation Day, the airline launched a flight from Salt Lake City to NASA in Houston that was made up exclusively of female crew members and passengers.

The fifth-annual WING flight (Women Inspiring our Next Generation) carried 120 girls aged 12-18 to Texas, and was arranged and orchestrated entirely by women, from the pilots and ramp agents to the gate agents, Delta said in a statement.

The initiative was first launched in 2015 as a means of exposing young girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers, as those industries are largely male-dominated.

This year, the group toured NASA’s Mission Control Center, Building 9, Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston, and also ate lunch with NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer Jeanette Epps.

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“It didn’t seem realistic to go after a career in aviation, but today I realized, ‘Hey, I can do this too,’” 12th-grader Katelyn J., 17, said.

In addition to their tours and getting to meet Epps, the girls were also introduced to mentors from other aviation workgroups that are typically male-dominated, like Delta’s technical operations team.

“We know representation matters. At Delta, we believe you have to see it to be it,” General Manager of Pilot Development Beth Poole said in a statement. “We’re taking ownership to improve gender diversity by exposing young girls at a young age and providing a pipeline so that 10 years from now, they will be the pilots in the Delta cockpit inspiring generations of women who follow.”

Approximately five percent of pilots in the industry are women, according to the release, and over the past four years, 7.4 percent of Delta’s new hire pilots have been women.