This summer, High-Tech High Heels proudly sponsored PreFlight camp as one of our 2019 grantees to show young girls the sky is the limit when it comes to what they can achieve, including becoming a pilot.

Out of over 580,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificated pilots in the United States only 6.7 percent of them are women, and those numbers are not increasing. In fact, when compared to figures in 2010, the total number of female pilots has decreased nationally by 7.2 percent.

To help prepare girls to takeoff, High-Tech High Heels funded PreFlight Camp – a five-day aviation camp for preteen girls at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas in July.

They use aviation to transform girls’ beliefs about gender roles, increase their self-esteem and inspire them to become pilots. In the same way that a pilot must first perform a “preflight” before they can takeoff in their airplane, the camp is a young girls “preflight” into aviation.

Camp activities ranged from hands-on experiments and teambuilding exercises to piloting a simulator and flying an airplane with female flight instructors.  The lessons featured aerodynamics, airplane components, navigation, weather, airplane communications, and weight and balance. 

Campers were able to tour CFAN, a manufacturing facility that makes composite fan blades for GE engines on the Boeing 747, 777, and 787.  Another highlight included a look at WWII airplanes at the Commemorative Air Force Hangar and receiving a presentation on the Women Air Force Service Pilots.

Post camp results:

  • 58% increase in campers that reported wanting to be a pilot as a result of attending PreFlight Aviation Camp, compared to their answers on pre-camp surveys. 
  • 100% of campers agreed that the airplane flight helped them to believe that becoming a pilot is possible.
  • 100% of campers also agreed that having camp counselors who are pilots helped them to believe that becoming a pilot is possible.
  • 100% of campers agreed that attended PreFlight empowered them to achieve their goals.
  • 91% of campers agreed that attending PreFlight helped to build their self-esteem (2 campers answered ‘neutral’)

What did the campers think? 

  • “Preflight is really an engaging camp. I’d learned a lot about basic things in aviation and it gave me a new perspective about aviation. My favorite is when I got to fly and control the plane a bit. It really encouraged me as a woman to do my best in the STEM industry. And everyone is really nice & friendly.” – Rocelyn, 14
  • “Preflight was great. There were many excellent classes and some great tours like at CFAN and the day at the airport, especially flying the Cessna 172 Skyhawk… I would definitely recommend the camp to other girls” – Francesca, 15.
  • “Preflight was amazing! It exceeded all of my expectations and I did not want to leave this educational atmosphere of encouraging and inspirational counselors and leaders!” – Selena, 13
  • “This is the right camp if you want to get your brain thinking…I loved going up in the airplane and getting to fly it.”-Sophia, 12

Donate to High-Tech High Heels:

If you are interested in supporting High-Tech High Heels with funding for impactful programs such as PreFlight and want to inspire the next generation of girls to pursue college-level degrees in STEM, please consider a recurring or one-time donation here.