Local Girl Scouts are pilots-in-the-making

Local Girl Scouts are pilots-in-the-making
With help from U.S. Navy personnel, from left, helicopter pilot Katie Baehr, safety equipment maintainer Grace Schoch and pilot Jackie Schuman, Girl Scout Brittany Litwiller tries on a flight jacket while other Girl Scouts check out gear. Behind them is a 1943 SNJ-5 single-engine aircraft used for training World War II pilots. Courtesy photo

CARLSBAD — Brittany Litwiller of Carlsbad was among 14 North County Girl Scouts who attended “You Can Be … a Pilot” at Gillespie Field on Oct. 19. 

Other participants included Encinitas scouts Natalie Fletcher, Veronica Ness and Natalie Springer; Oceanside Scouts Kristin DeSplinter, Catherine Field, Harley Hughes, Aunika Mayers, Elizabeth Rearick and Sara Wood and Vista Scouts Gabriella Garceau-Zaragoza, Nora Garcia, Sarah Kelly and Marycruz Resendiz.

“I really liked seeing the older airplanes; they’re so unique. It’s interesting to think about how all these planes work and fly … they’re different, but they all do the same job,” said Litwiller, who is considering a career in aviation.

Hosted by Women in Aviation International-San Diego chapter and Air Group One Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, the one-day camp educated participants about aviation and aerospace careers.

The event was part of Girl Scouts San Diego’s “You Can Be …” series designed to introduce girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers.“ We’re helping girls connect what they learn in the classroom with real world opportunities — to prepare them for future leadership positions in the workforce,” said Stephanie Dawes, Girl Scouts San Diego program specialist.

Volunteers and instructors included guest speakers Denise Wilson, CEO of Desert Jet; Betty Koschig, a senior investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. and Sandra Knight-Mayes, Airport Planning, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

They were joined by dozens of other high-achieving females from the industry — including military, commercial and air show pilots; air traffic controllers and investigators; flight instructors, aircraft hanger specialists; airframe and propulsion mechanics and UAV engineers.

Activities included opportunities for girls to interact with the professionals and tour vintage aircraft, including a 1968 Cessna 172, 1949 Cessna 170 and planes such as a 1943 SNJ-5 used to train World War II pilots.

Event organizer Paris Clement of Carmel Valley — director of community outreach for Women in Aviation International-San Diego — is a former Girl Scout who earned a Gold Award, Girl Scouting’s highest honor. “Coordinating the camp was an astounding way to give back to the Girl Scout movement and my community before I embark on my journey into the United States Air Force as an officer,” stated Clement. “The Girl Scouts left the camp realizing that with a little hard work, you truly can become anything you set your mind to be, including a pilot.”

Girl Scouts’ next career workshop is “You Can Be … a Marine Biologist,” on Nov. 9. To learn more, visit sdgirlscouts.org or call (619) 298-8391.



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