Half The Sky: Women in Aviation


Jet Asia Pacific - - Contents - Text by Shelly Bryant

The saying goes that women hold up half the sky, and this is nowhere more fitting than in the aviation industry. While many of the big-name aviators have been men, their female counterparts have blazed a trail as well, from the very earliest days of the industry. Women pilots – or ‘aviatrices’ – have been flying powered aircraft since 1908.

Within the first twenty years of powered flight, women on every continent except Antarctica had taken to the sky, performing in aerial shows, parachuting, and even transporting passengers. As well as setting records for distance and aerobatics, they pushed for airplanes to be used in disaster relief and public health services. During the Second World War, women from all over the world helped with war efforts, and many female pilots flew in auxiliary services. During the 1950s and 1960s




women were mostly restricted to serving in support fields like flight simulation training, air traffic control, and as flight attendants. However, since the 1970s they have been allowed to participate in military service in most countries.

Women’s presence in the aviation field has increased over the years. In 1930 the United States recorded around 200 women pilots, and by 1935 the number had risen to more than 700. In India, women make up 11.6% of all commercial airline pilots, significantly further ahead than the global number of women airline pilots, which is 3 percent.


To encourage an even stronger female presence in the aviation and aerospace industries, the non-profit organization Women in Aviation International (WAI) provides networking, education, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities, and aims to promote a wider understanding of notable American women in the aviation industry.

It all began when Peggy Baty Chabrian – dean of academic support for EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University – ran into trouble attracting and retaining female aviation students in the early 1990s. She decided to host a seminar to discuss the


为了鼓励提升女性在航空和航天工业的地位,非营利组织“女性航空国际组织”( WAI)提供网络、教育、辅导和奖学金机会,旨在提升大众对美国航空业知名女性的了解。

这一切都始于安柏瑞德航空大学( Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University)的学术院长Peggy Baty Chabrian,20世纪90年代初,为了吸引和留住女性航空学生,她遇到了重重困难。为此,她决定举办一个研论会并邀请Moya Lear、Jeana Yeager、Shannon Lucid和Bobbi Trout等人发言。该活动成为“女性航空国际组织”的首届年会。因研讨会大获成功,“女性航空国际组织”于1994年正式成立。1996年, Chabrian作为其创始人被董事会任命为“女性航空国际组织”的第一任全职总裁兼首席执行官。

“女性航空国际组织”年会的出席人数从1990年的150人增加到2015年的4500人。1996年的年会有1400位女性参加, 2013年增至3000多人。年会的活动包括教育研讨会、航空业各领域的交流机会、奖学金颁奖晚宴以及年度“女性航空国际组织”先锋名人堂入选仪式。2004年授予的奖学金约50万美元。2010年,“女性航空国际组织”收到的最大一笔遗赠来自Arlene Elliot,她在遗产中为该组织留下20.3万美元。

1996年,“女性航空国际组织”会议为航空业和机械师主办了一系列会议,会议由Robin Lamar和Marcia Buckingham提供赞助,最终促成“妇女航空维修协会”( Women in Aviation Maintenance)的成立。2015年,“女性航空国际组织”将每年9月最后一个周六定为“航空女童日”( Girls in Aviation Day),以激发8至17岁的女孩投身于航空业的热情。

issue, and invited the likes of Moya Lear, Jeana Yeager, Shannon Lucid, and Bobbi Trout to speak. The event became the first annual WAI conference. Thanks to its success, the organization was incorporated in 1994. As its founder, Chabrian was named the first full-time president and CEO of the organization in 1996 by its Board of Directors.

The annual conference has grown from 150 participants in 1990 to around 4,500 in 2015. The 1996 event was attended by 1,400 women, rising to 3,000-plus in 2013. It includes educational workshops, networking opportunities within various areas of the aviation industry, a scholarship awards banquet, and the annual WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. By 2004, around half a million dollars in scholarship money was being awarded. The largest bequest WAI received was in 2010, when Arlene Elliot left $203,000 to the group from her estate after she died.

In 1996, the WAI conference hosted an organizational meeting for aviation and mechanics sponsored Robin Lamar and Marcia Buckingham, leading to the formation of a new group called the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance. In 2015, WAI launched the Girls in Aviation Day, observed on last Saturday of the month of September. The day aims to spark a passion for the industry in girls aged between eight and seventeen.


One of the most notable Chinese female aviators is Wang Zheng, also known as Julie Wang. She was born in Chongqing in 1972, and currently works as an Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) in West Palm Beach, Florida. The first Asian woman to circumnavigate the globe in an airplane, Wang was also the first Chinese pilot to fly solo around the world and only the ninth woman ever to do so.

With a family background like Wang’s, it was inevitable that she would become an aviator. Having parents who were aerospace professors at the Harbin Institute of Technology, she grew up on the university campus and was surrounded by engineers and aerospace academics from an early age. When Wang expressed an interest in becoming a flight attendant for Air China, her parents withheld permission and encouraged her to study computer science at university. She did so for two years, but left to pursue a career in advertising in Beijing.

After spending fifteen years in strategic communications with global advertising agencies, Wang moved to the United States with her husband and daughter in 2010. It was there that she decided to pursue her flying dreams. In March 2011 she finally took to the sky and began taking lessons at a flight school. Her first attempt was in weather so harsh that the school's instructors were surprised when she returned the next day to sign up for

training. She gained her private pilot's certificate in July 2011, and by late 2012 she had become a multi-engine, instrumentrated commercial pilot. In 2013, she became the first Chinese citizen to earn an FAA flight instructor certificate and hold all three flight instructor ratings. In 2016 she became the first Chinese citizen to be approved by the FAA as a chief instructor for a Part 141 flight training provider.

The highlight of Wang’s pioneering career came in September 2016 when she became the first Chinese person to fly an airplane solo around the world. She departed westbound from Addison, Texas on August 17th and covered over 38,500 kilometers in 155 flying hours over 18 flight days, flying over or landing in 24 countries. Her longest leg was from Merced, California to Honolulu, Hawaii, in which she covered 2,160 nautical miles in 13.8 hours. Her longest day involved the legs from Lisbon, Portugal to Santa Maria Island in the Azores and then from Santa Maria to St. Johns, Newfoundland, during which she stayed awake for 29 hours.

At Airshow China 2016 in Zhuhai, AOPA China's President Zhang Feng presented Wang with a replica bank draft for 1,000,000 Yuan Renminbi (about $150,000), representing the prize AOPA China will award to her for being the first Chinese woman pilot to complete an around-the-world flight.

With figures like Julie Wang on the scene, along with the highly valuable work being done by organizations such as the WAI, the future of aviation looks to be in very good hands.


中国最著名的女飞行员之一名叫王争,英文名Julie Wang。1972年,王争出生于重庆。目前在佛罗里达州西棕榈滩,她担任航空公司运输驾驶员和认证飞行教员( CFI)。王争是第一位驾驶飞机环球飞行的亚洲女性,全球第一位独自飞行的中国飞行员,也是全球完成这一壮举的第九位女性飞行员。


她在全球广告公司从事了15年的战略传播工作,之后于2010年,她与丈夫和女儿移民美国。到达美国后,她决定追求自己的梦想。2011年3月,她终于抛开束缚,进入飞行学校学习。首次尝试的天气状况非常恶劣,但并未阻挡她第二天报名参加培训,学校的教官对此非常惊讶。2011年7月,王争取得私人飞行员证书, 2012年底,她已成为多发动机仪器导航商业飞行员。2013年,她成为第一位获得FAA飞行教员证书的中国公民,取得全部三个飞行教员级别执照。2016年,她成为第一位FAA批准的Part 141飞行训练机构首席教员的中国公民。

2016年9月,王争的飞行事业一飞冲天,她成为第一位独自驾驶飞机环球飞行的中国人。8月17日,她从德克萨斯州Addison向西出发,整个旅程用时18个飞行日, 155个飞行小时,飞行距离超过38,500公里,途径和降落24个国家。最长航段为加利福尼亚州默塞德至夏威夷州檀香山,在13.8小时内飞行2,160海里。飞行时间最长的一天是从葡萄牙里斯本到亚速尔群岛的圣玛丽亚岛( Santa Maria),然后从圣玛丽亚到纽芬兰的圣约翰斯,在此期间,她29个小时未合过眼。

在2016年珠海航展上, AOPA中国总裁Zhang Feng向王争颁发了100万元人民币的银行汇票放大版(约合15万美元),作为AOPA中国对第一位完成环球飞行的中国女飞行员的奖励。


These four female pilots leaving their ship at the four engine school at Lockbourne, Ohio are members who have been trained to ferry the B-17 Flying Fortresses.

Women aviators of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Shaesta Waiz

Wang Zheng (Julie Wang) is the first Chinese pilot to fly solo around the world.

Wang Zheng instructing a student pilot.

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