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WomenVenture offers encouragement for female flyers

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jul 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-26 19:40:02-04

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — Thousands of women and young girls came out to WomenVenture at EAA AirVenture this week, to honor the 30th anniversary of women flying in combat, celebrate female aviators of the past, and inspire the girls who will be the future of flight.

Among those in attendance, was retired Lieutenant Colonel Olga Custodio, who became the first Latina pilot in the Air Force in 1980.

Since women weren't allowed in combat at the time, she flew T-38 trainers before going to work as an airline pilot. Custodio is now retired but works with the organization Latinas in Aviation, working to get more Latinas into an industry where she says they make up "less than a half-percent of a half-percent."

Custodio hopes that as more women rise to higher positions in the aviation world, it will open up more opportunities for young girls to pursue their dreams of flight.

She hopes she can serve as an encouragement for those girls, to keep working toward their goals.

“I have a mantra...where there’s a will, there’s power," said Custodio.

An estimated one thousand women and girls interested in aviation came out to AirVenture's Boeing Plaza for a group photo Wednesday.

Among them, was aspiring pilot Gwendolyn Perry, who came with GirlVenture, a group of high school-aged aviation enthusiasts mentored by female EAA members. Perry said she enjoyed getting to speak with female pilots like Custodio.

“I loved being able to talk to one of the first woman fighter pilots, and the [Women Airforce Service Pilots] and my mentors," she said. "It’s really opened my eyes to see what women can do in aviation.”

Although she sees a lot of work left to be done, Perry says she's excited for the future of women in aviation.

“We have a long way to go, but we still have come so far," said Perry. "With this whole generation that’s going to be coming up into aviation, there’s going to be even more opportunities open up for women.”