On September 22, Delta Air Lines held its annual WING (“Women Inspiring out Next Generation”) Flight in order of International Girls in Aviation Day. The WING Flight is operated exclusively by women – from the dispatcher to the gate and ramp agents to the pilots.
This year, the flight brought over 130 girls, aged 11-18, from Atlanta to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast to learn about careers in aviation and aerospace.
One of the pilots operating the flight, Gatlyn Ligon, attended Delta’s inaugural WING Flight eight years ago. Reminiscing about her experience as a 17-year-old aspiring pilot, Ligon describes being “greeted by a group of accomplished women, all donning the very uniform [she] aspired to wear”.
She continued, “My most enduring memories revolve around my interactions with the pilots. Their smiles and encouragement ignited a fire within me. That day, I was profoundly inspired to strive toward the day when I could step into their shoes”.
While at the Space Center, the students took part in a series of workshops concerning “Women in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math]”. They also spent some time touring the Space Shuttle Atlantic and Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Ligon is now a Delta A320 first officer. She said her WING Flight not only confirmed her passion for aviation, but also “crystallized [her] desire to work for Delta specifically”. Delta is making big strides in promoting gender inclusion: currently 42% of its total workforce is made up of women.
However, the airline recognizes it has much more work still to do, as only 5% of its pilots and 11% of its Technical Operations employees are women. It is for this reason that Delta’s WING Flight exists. Since the Flight’s inception eight years ago, the airline has built partnerships with schools and community organizations across the country that facilitate STEM and aviation education programs.