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Minnesota Reservists Encourage Girls to Consider a Career in Aviation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Victoriya Tarakanova

Citizen Airmen from the 934th Airlift Wing, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Air Reserve Station, Minnesota, took part in the largest female-focused aviation event in the world in September.

The ninth annual Girls in Aviation Day, hosted by Stars of the North, the Minneapolis chapter of Women in Aviation, is designed to introduce girls ages 8 to 18 to aviation and aerospace. The GIAD event held at the Flying Cloud Airport in Minnesota, had about 2,500 attendees and many different types of aircraft to tour, including a 934th AW C-130H Hercules.

GIAD offers aviation-minded girls and their families the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with Air Force Reserve Airmen and aircraft.

“I’m passionate about getting girls better opportunities to do stuff like this,” said Senior Master Sgt. Amanda Kellner, 934th AW investigation and inquiries specialist, who has helped organize 934th AW GIAD involvement for years.

Though centered toward girls, the event inspires women of all ages who may not have considered aviation as a career.

“The big thing is when a young person, or even someone young at heart, has an ‘aha’ moment,” said Master Sgt. Mina Carlson, 96th Airlift Squadron flight engineer who has been helping support the event for more than five years. “And then you see that smile when they’ve been bitten by the aviation bug.”

Carlson said she was bitten by the aviation bug when she was a teenager. In addition to being an Air Force Reserve flight engineer, she also worked as the state’s chief helicopter inspector and recently joined the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Aeronautics.

GIAD helps girls discover aviation-based career opportunities beyond being a pilot. Minnesota’s GIAD brings in representatives from companies that contribute to aviation and defense segments from the engineering or manufacturing side.

“Globally, the (aviation) industry is going to need about a million people, with only 200,000 of those being pilots,” Carlson said. “So, we have expanded that engagement piece.”

Planning for 934th AW participation in the GIAD event began early in 2023. Kellner and her team considered specific mission logistics needed for success and gained approval to fly a C-130 to the event.

All the planning paid off, because groups of young girls from across Minnesota and beyond connected with many inspirational female aviators.

“I have two 11-year-old daughters, and I brought one of them last year and she loved it,” Kellner said. “She got so excited, and now she wants to join Junior ROTC, the Civil Air Patrol and other aviation organizations. Seeing her excitement, I was like, ‘this is a good thing.’”

(Tarakanova is assigned to the 934th Airlift Wing public affairs office.)