On Tuesday, women got the opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience with the Women’s Intro to Building. Hosted by Val Westedt, attendees were invited to learn the basics of metal construction and get an overview on aircraft building at this women-only event.
Val has built her own Zenith 650, Rosie, and wants to encourage other women to do the same.
“Women are much more capable than they think they are,” Val said. “My goal with this is to have the women walk out of there and say, ‘I could do this.’ They’ve got a little project, it’s a notebook, that does the riveting, does the drilling, does taking care of the points on the metal and everything, and they walk out with this. That is a lot of the skills you have to have to build one of those airplanes. So that’s my goal. We need more women in aviation. It is not easy to be a woman pilot, it’s not easy to be a woman builder.”
Val has firsthand experience on the difficulties of being a woman homebuilder.
“I made my EAA chapter believers,” Val said. “They all went, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, right, she’s going to build, or course you’re going to build.’ And so they kept coming over to the hangar and going, ‘Where’s Craig?’ I don’t know, probably back at the house! And so, they became believers, it was me that was out building the airplane. We need more of that out there, we need women building, we need women doing things in aviation, we need more women pilots! We just need more women out there doing both flying and building, and until we more flying, we aren’t going to get more building, either. They kind of go hand-in-hand.”
Based off of the turnout on Thursday, women’s interest in flying and building is looking up. Originally expecting around 20 participants, the workshop topped off at over 40, with volunteers having to turn people away. Participants were able to build and take home their own metal binder, courtesy of Zenith Aircraft.