In 2010, airline transport rated pilot Mireille Goyer launched the Fly It Forward™ initiative to celebrate the centennial of the first female pilot certificate earned by Raymonde de Laroche on 8 March 1910.
“I thought that the female pioneers that opened doors for all of us would be disappointed to see our lack of progress (0% to barely 6% in 100 years) and that the best way to celebrate them was to have a positive impact on female population growth, thus the idea to encourage pilots to pay specific attention to introducing girls to flying,” Goyer tells Runway Girl Network.
But Goyer didn’t stop there. The following year she founded Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, which is celebrated every year during the week of 8 March (the anniversary of the first female pilot certificate), during which women-centric events take place at airports and aerodromes around the world as well as in museums and aerospace businesses, and special commemoration flights are often conducted.
She also continued theFly It Forward™ initiative, which includes the Fly It Forward™ challenge, an annual competition for the “Most female pilot friendly airport worldwide”, “Most female pilot friendly training center worldwide”, “Most dedicated female pilot worldwide”, and “Most supportive male pilot worldwide” titles.
“To date, we have introduced close to 50,000 girls to aviation and recorded nearly 10,000 first flights,” she says, adding, “The initiative is not restricted to women pilots. Indeed, 2/3 of the Fly It Forward pilots are males. I personally think that men that Fly It Forward are as pioneering as women opening the doors as they too, take on social pressure to behave differently than expected.”
Indeed, every year on 19 November (International Men Day), Women of Aviation Worldwide Week “make a point to thank all the male Fly It Forward volunteers by remembering their day as they remember and celebrate ours” notes Goyer.
The video below was filmed in Gonzales, Louisiana, in 2013. Volunteer pilot Janet is a Ninety-Nines and has “flown it forward” every year since 2010 in her C150. In 2013, one of her first time flyers was young Madeline. Her uncle who brought her to the airport had borrowed a GoPro camera from a friend and installed it before the flight. He had no idea what he would get.
Next year the Sixth Annual Fly It Forward™ challenge will celebrate 100 years of female pilots in combat. “Women have never hesitated to lay down their lives for their countries. During WWI, Marie Marvingt heroically flew over a German military base in occupied territory to bomb it and, in doing so, became the first woman to fly in combat, worldwide. To salute the women who have served and thank those who are serving today, pilots participating in the 2015 Fly It Forward™ challenge will invite non-flying female military personnel and their daughters to experience flight in a small aircraft during Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, 2-8 March 2015,” says Goyer.
“We rise by lifting others,” she adds.