What is Elevate Aviation?

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I am excited to be able to share this column with the readers of Wings magazine and explore the exciting topic of women in aviation. To start this first column off, I would like to introduce Elevate Aviation.

Elevate Aviation is a non-profit organization that was founded in Edmonton, Alta. This summer, the organization turns three and what an incredible three years it has been. Elevate Aviation can easily be described as having two sides: First, to introduce women to the world of aviation and, second, to support women already in the industry.

Elevate Aviation wasn’t started with the intent of growing it into the thriving organization it is today. It was started by the makings of a calendar.

Back in 2010, I signed up to make a little trek up Mount Kilimanjaro with a local hospital in Edmonton, the Royal Alexandra Hospital. To join this journey, I had to pay my own way, plus donate $5,000 to the funding of the da Vinci robot at the hospital. Being a single mother at the time, I had no idea how I was going to raise that money.

It was because of the help of 11 other air traffic controllers at the Edmonton Area Control Centre, who challenged us to get outside of our comfort zone and be in the calendar, that I was able to raise the funds needed to make the donation.

In 2013, my new daughter-in-law joined me and helped create another calendar (for 2014) with funds to go towards a project in El Salvador. While creating that calendar, we noticed that the women involved loved spending time with each other. Some people had never really gotten to know other women in the aviation industry, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Elevate Aviation is bringing awareness to women across Canada through our cross-country tours, which are held in early March. These tours started with about 12 young women attending a tour in Edmonton. Now, the tours take place in nine cites across Canada, with a goal of reaching 18 cities next year.

Most young women come to our tours not knowing anything about aviation and leave with a newly sparked passion for the industry. We also have speakers who go into schools and organizations to bring the world of aviation directly to them.  

Once we get the kindle burning for aviation, we fan that fire even further by aligning the potential mentee up with a mentor and bringing them into the workplace for a personal tour. It’s a kind of try-before-you-buy experience.  

For example, if we find someone interested in air traffic control, we bring her in for a two-hour tour, let her plug in with a real air traffic controller and watch them work for an hour. If she is still interested in the career at that point, we are there for her through the entire process.  

We have similar programs set up for all areas of aviation, including the military. Want to talk to a woman who has flown a helicopter in the military to see if it’s a career for you? Just let us know!

As for the women who are in the industry already, we are looking for more and more speakers to share their careers and people (men or women) who want to be mentors. We are also launching mentorship training in 2018 to help those in the industry gain insights from professionals who can help elevate their careers through interviews with leaders.

What’s next for Elevate Aviation? We have a lot of exciting projects in the works that we cannot wait to announce in the near future. While we are getting things ready, we invite you to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to watch our team compete in Florida at the international Aerospace Maintenance Competition, where we will be sending the first all-female Canadian team.

Don’t miss out on our annual calendar launch event on October 20 in Edmonton, Alta. This is our fifth and final calendar launch as we move into a different direction for next year. This launch brings 12 women together from all over Canada and showcases their careers in the industry. The event gives us the funding necessary to keep working throughout the year and we are looking for companies who want to get on board with this amazing movement and support us.

By Kendra Kincade
Source: Wings Magazine

My summer with Elevate Aviation: working to help women ‘fly’ through the glass ceiling

A lot of us have been there.  We’re waiting to taxi the runway about to take off and we’re listening to the flight attendant on the intercom introduce the flight crew.  We learn that the captain is a female pilot.  There’s always someone in listening proximity that you can hear say “oh, a woman pilot.  Interesting.”  I’ve heard stories of people even getting off of their plane upon learning that their captain is a female.

That’s where Elevate Aviation comes into the picture.  This is a group of women (and men) who are working to encourage and support females in the field of aviation and aerospace.   According to The Airman Database,  women in the aviation industry only make up on average 6% of the total pilot population where 1% are female pilots in Egypt and 12% are female pilots in France.

Elevate inspires future aviation careers with their own stories as most of the volunteers are currently working in aviation in some capacity.  Their dedication with Elevate knows no bounds which is evident in their event schedule for the year.

Two most recent events that they held were their 1st Annual Golf Tournament at the Blackhawk Golf Club which raised funds towards their bursary program for future aviation enthusiasts and the Elevate float at the K-Days Parade.   A lot of planning goes into these events however, this determined and inspiring group of women work very hard to raise support for women in aviation.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I could offer Elevate for my stretch experience.  I had no idea what I would be able to help with.  However, after my first sit-down with the executive members I left with  a list of different tasks that included grant application, website design, mentorship recommendations, event-planning, networking for sponsorships. . . the list goes on.  A lot of the work that needs to be done includes increasing networking and support and improving on communication with current and prospective members.  This will help ensure that Elevate can continue their work into the coming years and even increase the level of support to women in the industry.

Thankfully, a lot of what we learned last year in our PLLC curriculum is helping me be creative with these tasks and give some fresh input on how they can be done.  Our sections in communication and gender equality our always on the forefront of my mind when approaching my to-do list.  At the end of the day my focus is on answering the question: How can we increase women numbers in the aviation industry?

Equality in the workplace is an ongoing battle in many different work environments.  Elevate Aviation is working to help women fly through that glass ceiling and achieve their goals in their aviation careers.

By Meghan V.
Source: University of Alberta

Edmonton air traffic controller wants more women to get their wings

Kendra Kincade Motivational Speaker

Kendra Kincade loves a good puzzle.

She sits at the controls of the Edmonton airport terminal every day, choreographing the movements of hundreds of airliners, helicopters and small planes.

The job of air traffic controller is a notoriously stressful position which requires intense concentration and attention to detail. Even a change in the wind can alter the trajectory of her day.

“You’re talking to the pilots of all the airplanes out there, and you’re vectoring them, turning them around in the sky, keeping them safe and keeping them away from each other, ” said Kincade, who works at Edmonton Terminal at the Edmonton International Airport.

“It takes a lot of practice and a lot of training to be able to do that.”

Kincade is the founder and board chair of Elevate Aviation, an organization which helps women find careers and breaks down gender barriers in the aviation industry. 

‘Everyone thought I was a little crazy’

Kincade’s career in aviation started unexpectedly. She met someone in New Brunswick who was an air traffic controller. He took her on a tour of the airport.

The first time she saw a control room with its bleeping radar screen and crackling radios, she was hooked.

“I just liked the look of it. Everyone was sitting in front of radar screens talking to airplanes and as I got to know more about it, I really enjoyed the fact that it’s kind of a puzzle,” Kincade said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.

“It was just a feeling that I had, that this was right. This was something I was supposed to do.”

Enthralled by the prospect of a new career, she loaded her children into the car and began the long drive to Cornwall, Ontario, where she would begin her training.

‘It’s the best decision of my life’

Kincade, who left home at 13 and had the first of her four children by 20, knew this was a career that would give her independence as a mother.

When family and friends balked at her plans, she ignored them. Seventeen years later, she has no regrets.

“Everyone thought I was a little crazy,” she said. “A lot of people said I couldn’t do it, but I just did it anyway and it’s the best decision of my life, for sure.”

After a grueling five months in Ontario, living in a rental home and relying a roster of babysitters to care for her children during the long hours in the classroom, Kincade returned to Edmonton to finish her training.

Then just as she was about to take the floor and work independently, Kincade was in a car accident which kept her out of the workforce for two years. When she finally recovered, she had to start all over again in a different department, Edmonton Terminal.

‘Every single day, you’re striving’

It’s a notoriously stressful, high-paced operation and Kincade describe her first few months as one of the most challenging times of her life.

“I would say that’s the most stressful part of the job is actually the training because it’s a constant push for about a year and half … every single day, you’re striving to get to a higher level.”

Now Kincade works eight-hour days among 200 other flight controllers at the Edmonton Terminal building.

She communicates with pilots, deciding when they should change their altitude, speed or flight path, helping them to avoid collisions or bad weather at a moment’s notice.

“We work 8.5-million-square miles of airspace out of our building. We work from the U.S border to the North Pole and Alaska to Greenland and they’re all divided up into different sectors,” Kincade said. 

“It takes a lot of training to be able to that, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Kincade, who was among the first women to work in the field in Alberta, wants knows more women could succeed in the field. 

“I don’t want to get myself in trouble by saying women are better multitaskers, but I do think women are an excellent fit for this job,” Kincade said. “People just don’t know about it. Most people think air traffic controllers are out on the runway with a pylon.

“This is one of the best jobs in the world.”

By Wallis Snowdon
With files from Tanara Mclean
CBC News