Friday, February 27, 2009

Penelope Pilot: Inspiration for little kids

"Girls need flight plans, not fairy tales."

I love this motto.

It's the motto of Girls With Wings, a site dedicated to inpiring girls and women of all ages to reach for the heights....not to just sit on their duffs and wait for a Prince Charming to come rescue them. (The analogy to our government is rather plain...or even plane, if I may make a pun, as the guv'mint is busy destroying general aviation [as well as individual inititive to stand on one's own two feet and take c harge of one's life] well as litigious lawyers, of course... but that's a rant for another entry.)

The site is announcning The Penelope Pilot Project, "designed to capture the imagination of girls with the character Penelope Pilot, a commercial airline pilot. The project will feature a series of books about Penelope and her friends, along with the characters’ dolls."

“Instead of encouraging our girls to wait for their knights in shining armor, how about encouraging them to explore the night in their shiny airplane?” reads the Ohio-based business’s Web site.

AOPA covered Girls With Wings ambitious plan.

The Penelope program is sponsored by Flight Plan Magazine, a publication for women in aviation that is also launching this spring. The first issue will feature a “character form” of Penelope, a thin foam image that girls can take to airshows and other aviation-related events. They can upload pictures of themselves with the character to

Penelope will make her first cross-country journey in April, when she rides along with ultralight pilot Arty Trost in Trost’s 1984 Maxair Drifter from Oregon to Lakeland, Fla., for Sun ’n Fun.

Lynda Meeks, the founder of Girls With Wings, said she has written a picture book about Penelope that she expects to be out before the EAA AirVenture convention in late July. Girls With Wings will have a booth at the Wisconsin airshow.

Meeks, a private airline pilot, said she started the company about five years ago after she looked for a baby gift for a friend of hers—also a pilot—who was expecting a girl. She could find no aviation-themed products for girls, so she started embroidering airplanes on items herself.

“I thought it was a bigger issue that we weren’t celebrating women in aviation as we should,” she said. She made it her mission to use women in aviation to educate and inspire young girls.

Susan Pruitt, editor of Flight Plan Magazine, contacted Meeks about the Penelope Pilot Project after her daughter found the Girls With Wings Web site. Meeks said the launch of the magazine and the Penelope project are coinciding nicely, and Pruitt has taken the lead on developing a doll. Meeks hopes to develop nine characters in the project, encompassing all aspects of aviation.

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