By Carrie Debrone
Kitchener Citizen
March 8, 2018​​

The sky’s the limit. At least that’s the way pilot and University of Waterloo Aviation student Jodie Scarrow sees it.

Wanting to improve the aviation industry for women, the 3rd year university student started a new collegiate chapter of the international organization Women in Aviation.

It launched March 2, just ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, with a celebration at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre. The new chapter is still provisional and it will take about a year to become officially recognized.

Named the Winged Warriors, the U of W Women in
Aviation chapter is one of very few Canadian
​collegiate chapters, and one of only two in Ontario.
​(The University of Western Ontario also has a new
​collegiate chapter in the process of chartering).

The Winged Warriors’ 15 inaugural members are all U of W Aviation students.

Scarrow, who is also captain of the U of W Dance Team, is clearly passionate about the aviation industry.

“I attend every conference and event possible to get involved and learn more. When I asked if there was a Women in Aviation group at UW, I was told there wasn’t, but was encouraged to start one. I knew there was potential, so I readily took on the task,” Scarrow said.

Scarrow, who earned her pilots’ license in July of 2016, is now working on her commercial license. She needs another 30 hours of flight time in order to take the commercial license test. Currently she flies Cessna 152s, 172s and Piper Sentinels.

“I would love to be a commercial airline pilot. There is a shortage of pilots now so there are more job opportunities,” she said.

“I don’t know what it is about flying that I love so much. It’s exciting. It’s different,” she said, adding that she was accepted to the university’s engineering program, but she just “couldn’t see myself sitting at a desk all day. Aviation just sounded so much more interesting.”

“Jobs in aviation are so based on networking and the industry has always been a fraternity – a brotherhood. Women in the industry just don’t have that so forming a chapter like this will give the girls there now, and those coming into the university program in the future, a great way to network and meet new people in the aviation industry.” Scarrow said.

“I think there are a lot of first and second year students in the program who haven’t figured out that you’ve got to get out there and network and really start learning about the industry. If you do, maybe someone will remember your name and you will get a job out of this,” Scarrow said.

Winged Warriors Vice President Natalie Smith agrees.

“Women are breaking through in the aviation industry. This is a great way to meet people and make friends and band together,” she said.

Anyone is welcome at the new chapter meetings, but under the provisional chapter rules, they must be University of Waterloo students.

When the chapter becomes officially recognized its membership may open up to allow members from the community.

Smith, who will take her commercial pilot test this week, said she always enjoyed flying but never considered it as a profession until she discovered the U of W Aviation program.

“I am really hoping to be part of the aviation industry after I graduate,” she said.

Victor Ujimoto, a Western University adjunct professor with the Human Factors in Aviation program, met Scarrow at a conference and encouraged her to start the new Women in Aviation chapter.

“The number of women in aviation is so low compared to other professions,” he said, adding that the new chapter will help facilitate getting more women into the industry.

“Jodie is passionate,” he said. “Flying is different than any other kind of work. It can be raining down here on the ground but its usually sunny and beautiful above the clouds,” Ujimoto said.

Anna Pangrazzi, owner of Apex Aircraft Sales Ltd. was invited to speak at the chapter launch. Involved in the Women in Aviation organization for more than 20 years, she said that coming out of World War II, airlines have always been very male dominated. Currently only about five per cent of pilots are women.

“We are now entering a time when airlines are booming and we’ve been working to get more women involved. There are exciting, high paying jobs in aviation and women should be looking for them,” Pangrazzi said.

Pangrazzi said, however, things are starting to change. She said Porter Airlines has taken the lead in hiring women and currently 12 percent of its pilots are women, and Air Canada has made changes to promote diversity in its workforce.

The new chapter has already enjoyed a few networking sessions and is looking forward to an April visit to Air Canada to use and learn from its flight simulators.
Benjamen Lee placed 5th in his age group in the 2017 World Archery Championships in Argentina.
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U of W Aviation student launches region’s first Women in Aviation chapter
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A new collegiate chapter of Women in Aviation launched March 2 at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre. From left: Associate Professor U of W Aviation Dr. Suzanne Kearns, Vice President Winged Warriors, pilot and 3rd year U of W Science and Aviation student Natalie Smith, Winged Warriors President and founder, pilot and 3rd year Geography and Aviation student Jodie Scarrow, and Western University adjunct professor Human Factors in Aviation program, Victor Ujimoto.