During a ceremony at the North Central West Virginia Airport, Victoria Grace was recognized as the first woman to complete her Private Pilot Single Engine Land Rating through West Virginia’s only part 141 flight school which is operated by Fairmont State University.
“It’s a very humbling experience to be part of a program that is making a huge impact on our state,” said Grace. “I just got lucky being the first female pilot but I plan to make a mark on this program. After I graduate I want to be the first female flight instructor in University history.”
Senator Shelly Moore Capito awarded Grace with a plaque in recognition of her achievements.
“Victoria is a trailblazer for women in aviation in West Virginia,” said Capito. “As the first woman senator from West Virginia, it is exciting to have Victoria be a part of a population underrepresented by women. She is going to be a great role model for future generations.”
The pilot shortage worldwide is nearly at a crisis level. Estimates say that North America alone will need to see 250,000 new pilots in the coming 10-15 years. Worldwide estimates are over 700,000. One of the efforts put forth is to field more aviators in mining demographics that traditionally have not been greatly involved in flying. Women represent about 6% of pilots and that number is up from years past.
“Fairmont State is making efforts to reach more women to consider aviation as a career,” said Joel Kirk, Chief Pilot and Director of Fairmont State’s Aviation Center of Excellence. “We are proud that women like Victoria are leading the way at the entry level of the career field. This exciting industry has a tremendous number of seats to fill and we are happy to see that women are getting more involved in the greatest career on earth.”
“Aviation is a great industry for men and women. We need more pilots in general but we specifically need more women pilots” added Grace.
As the only flight school in West Virginia with the Part 141 designation, the program falls under the oversight of the FAA. Very specific guidelines of syllabus standards and operations are approved, regulated and inspected routinely. The graduate of a part 141 flight school qualifies for reduced time in training and reduced time required for certain upgrades such as the Airline Transport Pilot certification.
Fairmont State University is the only four-year institution in the state that offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Technology with three options: Aviation Administration Professional Flight, Aviation Administration – Management and Aviation Maintenance Management.
For more information about Aviation Technology programs through Fairmont State, visit http://www.fairmontstate.edu/collegeofscitech/academics/aviation-technology-program.