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Girl Scouts take flight – and the controls - on Aviation Day

GSGWM Aviation Day 2019
Ella Gagnon prepares for takeoff with Larry Clay. They flew from the Laconia Municipal Airport in Gilford on May 4. (Courtesy photo/Dan Caron)

Girl Scout program shows girls that careers in aerospace are open to them, too

GILFORD, NH | Some future pilots may well have discovered their passion at Girl Scout Aviation Day. Eight middle-school-age Girl Scouts not only learned the principles of flying, they got to go up in the air with the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles pilots at the Laconia Municipal Airport in Gilford on May 4 – and even took the controls.

“I didn’t realize how beautiful New Hampshire really is until I was flying over it,” said Diya Bhatnagar, a sixth-grader from Nashua. “The experience of having the handle in my hand was just amazing.”

Girl Scouts Ella Gagnon, Alexa Kruger, Adrielle Martin, Jennasis Martin, Makayla Meehan, Lauren Puopolo, and Lily Schneider, all seventh-graders from Hudson, along with Diya, started their visit by learning the principles of aeronautics, then got to take flight and put their new knowledge into action.

“The girls did great!” said Dan Caron, director of education services at WinnAero in Gilford. “The pilots were impressed with how well they were able to fly the planes. All the girls kept the plane in level flight and completed some banking turns. The pilots took charge for the takeoffs and landings.”

Caron noted that there are currently thousands of career openings in aviation. He said the shortage of pilots, maintainers, airport operators, air traffic controllers, and more will only create a greater demand in the future. “My students at Gilford High School, your (Girl) Scouts, Civil Air Patrol cadets, students who attend our ACE Academies, and others will be the ones to fill these shortages, if they are aware of the careers available in aerospace. That is one of the reasons we do these events,” he said. “The second reason – it’s a lot of fun!”

WinnAero’s mission is to interest young people in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through aviation and aerospace programs and experiences, and to foster enthusiasm for flight in people of all ages. When Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, she encouraged girls from the start to break barriers, even offering an aviation badge from 1916 to 1920. Now Girl Scouts offers 82 different badges in the STEM fields.

Girl Scouts has long been committed to challenging stereotypes by providing girls of all ages with interactive and engaging programs that increase their interest in STEM. According to a Girl Scout Research Institute study, Girl Scouts are more likely than non-Girl Scouts to participate in STEM activities such as conducting science experiments, designing video games, and building robots (60 percent versus 35 percent). The inclusive, all-female environment of a Girl Scout troop creates a safe space where girls can try new things, develop a range of skills, take on leadership roles, and just be themselves. Girl Scouts unleashes the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ in every girl, preparing her for a lifetime of leadership.

About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit