WHEELING - Local pilot Natalie Campana-Lucas is working in conjunction with Pier Aviation to organize the area's second-annual "Women of Aviation" program, set to take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Wheeling Ohio County Airport.
The event coincides with Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, and March 8 marks 106 years since Therese Peltier of France became the first female pilot in the world, according to the Women in Aviation International website.
The free program includes a mini flight school and a range of activities for kids and parents of all ages. Guests will have the chance to tour Wheeling Airport's museum and air traffic control, view a variety of airplanes and helicopters and meet and speak with the Civil Air Patrol as well as Phillip Bender, a certified flight instructor who will be on hand to answer questions about introductory flight lessons at Wheeling Airport. Susan Board, pilot and manager at the Marshall County Airport, and area pilots Kathy Johnson and Joann Gould also will be speaking to kids with the hope of sparking interest in aviation.
ENJOYING THE PROGRAM — Enjoying the sun and sky at last year’s “Women of Aviation” program are Katie Lash, left, and Bryanna Lash. They participated in mini flight school and took the opportunity to be passengers in a flight over the Ohio Valley. - Contributed
"They have a wealth of information that they want to share with the Wheeling area," Campana-Lucas said.
Pier Aviation will offer airplane rides over the Ohio Valley in a Cessna 172, weather permitting, for $30 per person.
More than 60 people participated last year when the program took place at the Jefferson County Airpark. Although the event organizers hope to inspire girls, boys are welcome to join in on the fun.
"The international goal is to get as many future lady aviators in the sky; however, I never exclude the boys," Campana-Lucas said. "We want to show young people the opportunities they have available right here in their backyard. Some people who have never been to the airport don't realize the possibilities."
Campana-Lucas said she has been interested in aviation since she was 3, and she has been flying since 2001. As the only active female pilot in Jefferson County, her goal is to share her passion for flight.
"It's so awesome to have your foot on the rudder, point your nose to the heavens and just take off. There's nothing like it," said Campana-Lucas, also a multimedia instructor at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School. "It's such a great family event, something free and exciting to do on the weekend," she said.