July 28, 2021

In simple terms, the mission of the nonprofit PreFlight Camp is to make girls 11-14 aware of aviation and its career opportunities.

“We’re past the point of receiving negative feedback” about gender equality in the aviation sector, said program co-founder and Vice President Kristen Franke. “Gender representation is turning around in medicine, engineering,” and other fields like aviation, she said “It just lacks exposure: you can’t be what you can’t see.”

PreFlight’s aviation-based curriculum introduces campers to aerodynamics, aircraft components, weather, communication, navigation, and weight and balance through hands-on STEM activities. The program concludes with concluding with a simulator and introductory flight,

The pioneers behind the program have moved quickly to advance its development. During a launch meeting held at the Air Force survival school just a few years ago, camp founders established the program.

PreFlight held its inaugural six-day, overnight camp at Texas State University in 2016. The next year, it participated in EAA AirVenture’s AeroInnovate business accelerator. The camp returned to Texas in 2018 and 2019. Its post-pandemic reboot takes place July 26-31 at Colorado Skies Academy in Centennial, CO, said PreFlight’s president and board chair Morgan Mitchell. The camp counselors, recruited through social media and word of mouth, are all volunteers.

The camp, preparing girls to “take off,” is founder Liz Greene’s “brain baby,” Franke said. “We didn’t know flying was an option for us initially – we fell into it, and we thought, in the spirit of the WASP legacy, with sisterhood and as role models, we could do better for the next generation,” Franke added, in reference to the storied group, which was honored by NBAA in 2018.

“Inspiring the next generation of aviation professionals is an endless endeavor, and the diversity of these outreach efforts is as important as the diversity of those they inspire,” said Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA’s senior vice president of education, training and workforce development.

Kristi Ivey, CAM, NBAA’s northern mountain regional representative, added, “Outreach efforts like PreFlight not only inspire the next generation of aviation professionals, they introduce and network today’s professionals and unite them with a common goal.”

Learn more about PreFlight.