If young girls from the Rim Country had never dreamed of becoming pilots, all that changed Saturday, during Aviation Day at the Payson Airport.
The Arizona Cactus-Pine Council Payson Neighborhood Girl Scouts experienced the fun side of aviation on the first Payson Girl Scout Aviation Day.
Female pilots were there all day to introduce girls to the planes they fly and the possibility of careers in aviation.
Members of the Payson Pilots Association (PPA), Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 810 (EAA) and The Ninety-Nines, Inc. International Women Pilots Organization conducted the workshop.
As the Girl Scouts went from station to station they had their "Passports" stamped with an airplane symbol. The girls asked many career questions of U.S. Air captain Stephanie Whetton, Aviation Safety Inspector, Federal Aviation Administration and airplane mechanic Daren Du Friend, and American Airlines flight attendant Mandy Young.
They wanted to know, "How long do you have to study to be an airline pilot?" "Is the flight attendant job as much fun as it sounds?" "Don't you have to know a lot of math and science to work on airplanes?"
During the session on Pilot Navigation Tools, Diana Vidas and Sandra Butler taught the Girl Scouts how to read aeronautical charts, how to use air-to-air communications and how to land on a simulated airport.
One of the girls commented, "Payson looks so small on the chart."
Donna Hanson and Steve Vaught gave a demonstration of how the controls make an airplane fly. Under the guidance of pilots Mac McCabe, Tom Butler, Artie Martino and Tony Vidas, the girls had an opportunity to sit in different airplanes and see what happens when they moved the controls on a high wing or low wing airplane.
"Don't you get confused when the wing on one side of the plane is up and the other side is down?" asked an observant Scout.
The Girl Scouts and their parents were awed when Jim Helms and Carl Damon of Bravo Partners, Inc. had them climbing up and around a "Shorts" SC7, twin-engine turbine aircraft.
As they toured the planes, they heard about the history of women in aviation. They learned about Katharine Wright, who helped her brothers develop the famous Wright Flyer, and what it took for Maj. Nicole Malachowski to become the first female to fly with the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron.
Pilots, including women pilots, the girls learned, volunteer many hours of their time and money to organizations such as Angel Flight and The Flying Samaritans to transport patients for free to medical facilities and take doctors and nurses to other countries to treat poor people.
Maj. Wheeler, Sgt. Snively and Cadet Barnett of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) shared their experiences in aviation, flying an airplane and in their search and rescue efforts in this community.
As they walked from session to session with the "controllers" -- Nancy Ward, Cheryl Dolby, Ann Henley and Barbara Hulse -- the girls listened to pilots communicating over the radios and learned some of the phonetic alphabet -- alpha for "A," November for "N," zulu for "Z."
Liz and Alan Nordquist with Coyla Mc Keanand took photos of the girls in front of an airplane. One picture was placed in their "Passport" to keep as a souvenir. Carol Holm, Barbara Parrish, Judy Preston and Byron McKean assisted in the aviation activities.
At the end of the morning, they received their AOPA Future Pilot Pin and enjoyed airplane cookies. Then, some of the Girl Scouts chose to see the Croman firefighting helicopter on the field.
The pilots and volunteers of the program had as much fun as the young people of Payson as they introduced them to the career opportunities in the field of aviation and the joys of flying. Now these Girl Scouts know that girls can fly, too, and a career in aviation is possible.