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Women aviators of the past and present being celebrated

Women aviator celebration Robert Boyd WFTS.png
Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 18, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) — Seventy-five years ago, the first all-women air show took place in Florida.

“It was a struggling time for women pilots at the time and the purpose of that original airshow was to advocate for women but also raise money to promote the future of women in aviation,” said Sara Behnke, who is with the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

Almost a century later, women are still a minority in the industry.

To mark the event, women in the industry are having a GALA.

The fundraiser, held at Peter O. Knight Airport, will provide scholarships so young women can pursue their aviation dreams.

“Aviation is sort of thought of as an expensive hobby or career to pursue so we just want to make sure we open the doors for everyone, no matter what your background is or how much money you have,” said Behnke. “It's not just about pilots or engineers or mechanics we are looking at a full-on industry, like business. For example, I’m a woman in aviation and I happen to be in the business of aviation.”

Flight instructor Joanna McPherson said with this kind of support, she’s optimistic the next generation of pilots can be led by women.

“I love giving back, so much was poured into my training and my life from mentors that I had, and I love seeing women come in and decide that I can be in aviation as well,” said McPherson.

Holly Hutchens, who is only one month into pilot school, is already planning a career as a commercial airline pilot.

“I think it’s great Tampa has so much diversity and I think it’s great that they are being supportive of women getting into aviation,” said Hutchens.

This story was originally reported by Robert Boyd on