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Reservists host 12th Annual ‘Women in Aviation’ Career Day

  • Published
  • By Michael Dukes
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — The 315th Airlift Wing hosted its 12th annual ‘Women in Aviation’ Career Day March 19, 2019 at at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. More than 110 middle and high school girls from 15 Lowcountry schools attended the event.

The wing’s WIA vision is “Investing in tomorrow’s leaders.”

Senior Master Sgt. Valerie Langford, 315th Force Support Squadron, told WCSC Live 5 News the program’s success was due in part to the many dedicated people and organizations who pitch in each year.

“We want to show the girls what the military does, what aviation careers are out there,” Langford said. “We have colleges represented as well as corporate entities like Boeing, just to give them an idea that there are things to do in the industry for women that are far beyond anything they can dream about.”

“Diversity is the Air Force’s mission and we feel that having women of all races and ethnicities is one of the greatest things,” Langford added. “And today women need to know that we can do anything because girls rock!”

Col. Jeanine McAnaney, 315th AW vice commander, recalled how she entered into the aviation career field as an Air Force pilot. She described the various obstacles she overcame and how as a woman she had to give much more than 100 percent to equal the 100 percent of her male colleagues. But, she told the girls, she never quit.

Each year, the program holds a scholarship essay contest for the girls. This year essay questions were:

1: Why do you think the world of aviation is still dominated by men?

2: What strategies can be used to attract more women to pursue a career in aviation?

The winners of this year’s scholarship essay are:

1st Place ($250) — Chloe Forman, Cane Bay High School

2nd Place ($200) — Kinsey Cote, Cane Bay High School

3rd Place ($150) — Melissa Harris, Cane Bay High School

The attendees were treated to a “Women in Aviation” skit, performed by three women reservists, all who had different aviation careers and different paths to get to where they were today.

Maj. Molly McCarthy, 317th Airlift Squadron Pilot, spoke of her journey from loadmaster to pilot, and how she balancing of her civilian job as a forestry management worker and being a mother.

Staff Sgt. Shakeyna Smith, 701st Airlift Squadron aviation resource manager, spoke about being a single mother of two, and how she managed to join the Air Force Reserve, go back to college, and most recently earn acceptance to be a future Air Force Reserve pilot.

Senior Airman Dhyareon Herren, 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aviation resource manager, also spoke on how she balances her family life a single mother with both her Reserve job and her civilian job as a certified pharmacy technician.

The event also included tours of the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 5 facility where complete sub sections of a C-17 Globemaster III are set up to train aircraft maintainers. There, attendees saw a huge Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engine suspended in the air with its access panels opened to display the magic behind their tremendous power. They also tour a facility containing a C-17 flight deck complete with pilot seats and controls.

Attendees also toured the base flight line and a static display of a C-17 was staged. Inside guests were greeted by female loadmasters, an aeromedical evacuation crew, and were given opportunities to sit at the aircraft controls, where Citizen Airmen were happy to answer such questions as “what does this button do?” or “what is this for?”

“I’ve never been on a C-17,” said Logan Rattley, Fort Dorchester High School sophomore. “I never knew what it looked like on the inside and I got to look at how it looked, and functioned and how the crew functions.”

During the lunch break, the girls had opportunities to speak with representatives at about 20 career tables, ranging from security forces, explosive ordinance disposal, aeromedical evacuation, combat camera and more.

This career day is sponsored by the 315th Airlift Wing and Women in Aviation committee, a group encouraging women to seek career opportunities in aviation.

According to a 2017 statistic from the Federal Aviation Administration, of the 609,306 active pilots in the United States, only about seven percent are women. Women account for almost 30 percent of the nearly 700,000 non-pilot aviation jobs in the United States.