By FSgt G. Chen

After a busy day of ground school and tagging, it was time to suit (or uniform) up. This Saturday, the evening beheld the 8th Elsie MacGill Awards. The annual event, held by the Northern Lights Aero Foundation, celebrates the accomplishments of eight notable women in aviation and aerospace. Around fifteen air cadets were invited to partake in the ceremony by carrying the flags and escorting the award recipients. This year, it was an honour for three 540 cadets to be invited to participate.

Following a cocktail reception, the ceremony begun. A number of introductions and presentations were made, commemorating the advancements of of the year. The Women Soar at Porter (WSP) program was a memorable example. Porter Airlines has the largest percentage of female pilots in Canada and is looking to bridge the gender gap throughout the aviation industry. Evidently, grand things are happening for future women in aviation.

Once all the guests had enjoyed a delicious meal, it was time for the awards to be presented. In presentations and videos, invaluable characteristics of determination, creativity, perseverance, enthusiasm, and leadership demonstrated the incredible capability of a woman in her element. The broad scope of the aviation and aerospace world was fully encompassed as awards were presented to NavCanada Provincial General Managers, Directors of Flight Operations, pilot trainers, members of the Canadian Space Sector. It was also an eye-opener to the aspects of the industry that to not immediately come to mind. There were women with over 30 years in Commercial Piloting and Air Navigation Services alike. Women were innovating emergency survival kits, setting the medical standards for aircrew of the Canadian Armed Forces, and engineering a radio-astronomy dish used for large scale soil analysis and farming applications. As each of the eight awards were handed to these respected women, the admiration in the room only soared higher.

The Elsie McGill Awards were a tribute to the illustrious career of women in aviation. The eight recipients of the Awards were living proof of what women have made possible. One of the first female pilots in Canada, Major (retired) Deanna Brasseur, gave the last speech of the night. Her charismatic charm left the room smiling and inspired, with a reminder that the perpetuation of the amazing things happening rested in the hands of the next generation — this generation.

After all, the sky’s the limit.