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Aviation conference offers opportunity to network

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 08, 2005) -- For the 16th time in as many years, women involved in aviation will gather to network and discuss issues surrounding their chosen industry.

The 16th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference runs March 10 to 12 in Dallas.

The event is a great opportunity for both women and men involved in aviation to network and further develop their professional careers, said Chris Patterakis, special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for community relations.

"Women in Aviation International is a staunch supporter of aviation interests," Mr. Patterakis said. "The group has members who are engineers, female astronauts, students and pilots. It's an all-aviation oriented organization. Women involved in it are looking for networking opportunities and are also involved in helping provide scholarship opportunities."

Speakers at this year's conference include the chief executive officer of Southwest Airlines, Colleen Barrett; B-1B Lancer pilot Capt. Kim Black; air show performer Chandy Clanton; chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Ellen Engleman Connors; aviation humorist Ralph Hood; and aviation pioneer, retired Gen. Charles E. Yeager.

The conference includes a trade show with more than 120 companies, a job fair exhibit, more than 40 educational seminars and numerous networking opportunities. Women in Aviation International officials will also honor the annual Pioneer Hall of Fame inductees and scholarship recipients.

The Air Force benefits from the partnership with the organization by having access to an untapped pool of diverse individuals with an interest in aviation, officials said.

"The best Air Force in the world requires a stable accession pipeline providing critical skills in areas such as pilots (and) aviation, medical and science and engineering to accomplish its air and space-centric mission," officials said. "Changing demographics have led to increased competition within the public and private sectors for scarce diversity resources. The Air Force needs a diverse accessions pool of talent to develop its total workforce."

As part of an agreement between the Air Force and the organization, Airmen who sign up for the conference will be given a free one-year membership in the organization and a subscription to its magazine.

For more information, visit www.wai.org.