Successful event!

Thank you everyone who attended Chics Take Flight 2013 (especially those of you who persevered through Google Maps’ incorrect location information of the Innisfail Airport! Central Alberta Gliding Club has already contacted Google about revising the listing for the airport.) Although drop-in traffic declined from last year, we saw a whopping 70% increase in paid flights, and any event where we can get more people in the air is a success in my books. Chief Flight Instructor John M. expressed satisfaction yesterday evening with the safety of the event as well – no small accomplishment given how busy the airspace was. We had the Stearman biplane, 4 gliders, 2 towplanes, a jump plane, and dozens of skydivers per hour all sharing the same area and using runways just feet apart. Thanks to the professionalism and skill of all the pilots, we observed no conflicts.

Thanks again to attendees, vendors, sponsors, and of course volunteers – Chics Take Flight is becoming a major event in the Alberta soaring world, and it wouldn’t be possible without all of you.

Stay tuned for event photos soon.

Don’t worry (about the weather forecast), be happy

Chics Take Flight 2013 is a GO for August 10! The rain is not predicted to arrive until the evening, but the building clouds in the afternoon is actually just the kind of weather that can make for longer soaring flight. So arrive early to get your name on the list!

Besides, this is Alberta and we’re pretty sure the forecast will change between now and tomorrow anyway. Last year’s Chics Take Flight started out cloudy and raining the night before, but the day was bright blue sunny skies. We fully expect this year’s weather to follow suit!

See you tomorrow!

50% off intro flights! Only 5 available!

Thanks to a very recent and very generous donation from Walmart Sylvan Lake, we’ve got some really exciting news that will hopefully enable more of you to fly! The Walmart representative requested that their donation go towards discounted flights for young people, so we are very pleased to make the following announcement:

The first five young women, ages 14-21, who arrive at Innisfail Airport and sign up for an intro flight this Saturday will receive 50% off the cost of the flight. That’s right – an introductory flight for only $50!

Why are we limiting the discount to young women? Well, part of our mandate is to promote aviation as a hobby and possibly a career to women, so it makes sense to focus on younger people. Younger people also tend to have less buying power, but if you’re 14 and have a paper route, you can probably afford this flight.

Perhaps most importantly, if you fit into this age range, you are both old enough to fly and young enough to qualify for a variety of Soaring Association of Canada bursaries and incentive programs that will keep you in the air, even through post-secondary school. So come on out and see if soaring is for you – gliding on a youth bursary is a very affordable way to follow your highest-flying dreams. You might just be flying airplanes before you learn to drive a car. :)

Get to know Judy

Judy was the committee chair and head organizer for Chics Take Flight 2012. For 2013, she’s taken on a supporting role.

1. What is your aviation background?

I’ve always been fascinated with planes and flying but never thought I could do it.

2. What got you interested in soaring?

A picnic trip with my husband to Sheep River Falls on July 1, 2010 with an impromptu stop at Cu-Nim Gliding Club changed my life forever. I never thought that I could learn to fly and find so much joy. It is absolutely challenging to learn but I can honestly say that I have never had a bad flight. Short, yes, but never bad. To see an eagle soaring below you in a thermal or share a thermal with a couple of hawks is very special. Flying along in a wave is an experience that words can’t describe. To see and meet other women who share this passion is extraordinary.

Judy in flight

Judy in flight

3. Tell us about a memorable flight. (If different from the answer to #2.)

I have had so many memorable flights it’s hard to choose one that stands out. That said, the one that sticks in my brain is after last year’s Chics Take Flight. An instructor and I were in the club’s new DG1000 and were flying in formation in a wave alongside a couple of other members in the ASK21. Another pilot had left their iPhone in the cockpit of the DG, so my instructor and I took advantage of the opportunity to document this flight with pictures. I recall looking down at the green hills below me and the purple hues in the western sky as the sun was beginning to set. The few clouds were so close I could almost reach out to touch them. After over an hour we decided to land, more for me out of fatigue than because of change in flying conditions. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

4. Have you ever been scared while flying?

Landing scares me. So little time to put it all together and there is only one chance to do it. You can’t go around and start over again.

5. Why do you think there aren’t many women in aviation?

I think women perceive it still as a man’s “game” and they can’t do it and be successful. The expense is probably another reason and family life takes precedence over everything else. I’ve also heard women comment that it is too scary. Driving in the city is scary. When talking to women, I assure them that it is very safe. It is not an extreme sport. Also, there seems to be a perception that aviation is just about being a pilot. Aviation has many facets. I know of women in my chapter of Women in Aviation International who aren’t pilots but are involved in other aspects. One works with Vintage Wings of Canada, a couple more are in avionics, one is a flight attendant, one works with ATC and we even have an 79 year old lady with a PhD in Psychology who is none of those but just loves to fly in “big planes”. She loves socializing with us and enjoys listening to us when we talk “prop talk”.
Lastly, when I think about those women who ferried planes overseas during the war, it was a remarkable feat! But we don’t hear much about that. I think, for whatever reason, we haven’t done a good enough job to increase the awareness among women that we can do this and do it well.

Judy and some other pilot chics

Judy and some other pilot chics

6. Why should there be more?

Women can contribute tremendously to aviation in many ways. Instruction is one area that we need women. We think and learn differently than men and sometimes there can be a conflict which may result in frustration for both parties. In my case, it can go either way. All the instructors at my club are all men and there a few that I have trouble learning from which is challenging for both of us. There are a couple who really connect with me. My husband used to be a flight instructor and he has been teaching me some things on a flight sim we have. I totally get it with him. One story he shared with me was there was an older woman (50s+ and a nurse – like me) who was learning to fly. All the instructors gave up on her because she just wasn’t catching on. My husband took on the challenge and she was able to learn from him. She got her license and went on to join the ’99s. She is an inspiration to me and I would love to meet her someday if I could ever find her. She is not the only one. I have met a remarkable woman who is also an inspiration. She is Val Deschamps this year’s Chairperson for Chics Take Flight. I want to be like her when I grow up!

7. How long have you been a pilot?

About 2 years…still a student but had to take a sabbatical this year because of “life” getting in the way of flying.

8. What is the most important safety aspect, in your opinion?

Be alert. Be on your game. Check, check and check again. Don’t ignore that niggling feeling in your gut that something is amiss. Starting over is not wrong.

Email problems and how we’re fixing them

Our little “contact us” form has, sadly, been discovered by spambots, and they’ve been using it to flood our email account with garbage. I suppose it was really only a matter of time. (Perhaps this means we’ve “arrived” as a website.) This means two things:

1) If you want to email us, you will have to do so directly, from your own email account, until I can install a more secure form. In order to avoid further attracting bots, I won’t write out the full email address here, but it’s a Gmail address, and the name before the “at” symbol is “chicstakeflight”.

2) Many of you have tried to contact us using the form and have not received a reply. We’re really sorry about this! We should have been checking the spam filter all along. I’ve alerted the rest of the Chics organizing committee to this problem. We’re going to go through the spam folder right away and pull out all the emails that appear legitimate. However, Gmail automatically deletes spam after 30 days, so if you emailed us before Canada Day and didn’t hear from us, your original email is gone. Could you kindly email us again, directly this time, so that we won’t lose your contact information in the junk folder? Thanks!

All this frustration calls for a silly video. Please enjoy this classic from Monty Python:
The SPAM skit, of course!