In groups of three, they boarded single engine Cessnas and were soon airborne among the clouds.
Fly It Forward was launched in by the international nonprofit alliance Women of Aviation, which aims to help girls of all ages learn about aviation and careers in the field. Janet Gonzales, a pilot and the manager of the Louisiana Regional Airport in Gonzales, has held the event for girls since the beginning.
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The airport has typically been the only one in Louisiana to hold the Fly It Forward event, Gonzales said. A pilot friend of hers for some of the years has provided the event at the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans, she said. The girls ride in small prop planes with room for the pilot, a front-seat passenger and two backseat passengers. The front-seat passenger has a yoke in front of her, the equivalent of a steering wheel in a car, like the pilot does.
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Under direction of the pilot, the student in that spot gets the chance to steer the plane for a bit on the flight. On Friday, Gonzales had the help of four other pilots, some of whom, like herself, are members of the NOLA 99s, a Louisiana chapter of the international group called The 99s, which was formed in the s for female pilots and named after the of its charter members.
James Parish, arrived at the airport on school buses, accompanied by moms, d and at least one grandmother.
Heading the contingent was Melissa Aubert, a behavior strategist for the St. James Parish school district, who helps students develop career plans for their futures. She said she took five girls from her church last year for the first time to the Fly It Forward event.
Outside of the airport building, the girls from St. James Parish gathered into groups of threes around each of the five planes. Jones gives each of the girls a high-five before they all get in the plane and strap themselves in.
Twenty minutes later, the little plane, striped with yellow and orange, lands, and the girls disembark with big smiles on their faces. Edit Close.
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