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Women in Aviation Careers

Traditionally, jobs in the helicopter industry are male-dominated, but women are bucking the trend and following their passion to careers in aviation and aerospace.

Helicopters perform a range of operations: medical evacuations/air ambulance (medevac), search & rescue, construction & utility work, heli-logging, sightseeing tours, heli-skiing transport, environmental & geographical surveys, transport of crews/equipment to remote and mountainous locations, film productions, electronic news gathering (ENG), fire-fighting, law enforcement just to name a few.  

Careers in the helicopter industry are not limited to piloting a helicopter. Other positions include:

Engineers usually have a variety of duties beyond just maintenance that include ground crew & fueling operations both on base and at remote locations. AMEs require training & certification, see a short list of schools below.  A few years down the road, an experienced engineer with great organizing & people skills may progress into positions such as supply managers, quality assurance managers, director of maintenance (DOM).

Engineers on occasion expand their skills by going to flight school and obtaining their pilot license.

The primary duty of a dispatcher is flight following (tracking locations of aircraft) as per company procedures. Other duties usually involve travel itineraries & safety for crews in the air and on the road. Involvement in travel arrangements of crews as well as other support duties.  

Requires detail oriented skills to maintain the maintenance service records of every aircraft and  support equipment.

Tracking parts and supplies that are in stock or needed for maintenance & overhauls.  Aviation parts require tracking of where it was purchased & certified for use. Some parts and supplies also have expiry/recertification dates that must be tracked. Companies that have multiple bases often ship the parts out to where a helicopter will be located for maintenance.

Assistants to one or more managers with a sundry of duties including editing operations manuals, tracking training records and safety related items in custom software & spreadsheets.

Accountants of varying skills for payables, receivables, payroll and financial reporting. Some larger companies also have a separate human resources (HR) department.

Safety officers, quality assurance (QA) managers.  Specialized knowledge in aviation regulations, detailed skills in communication, processing paperwork with deadlines, safety auditing & reporting.

Experienced pilots a few years down the road may also progress into careers such as base managers, training pilots, chief pilot, director of operations.

Women in Aviation week 2024 YHL helicopter pilots AMEs

Learning Resources for Kids

Training Resources for Adults

Okanagan College Commercial Aviation Diploma Program

First Peoples’ Aviation Technology – Flight Diploma Program

Whirly Girls Aviation Links to Resources

Other Women in Aviation Web Links

Canadian 99s – Women in Aviation History

Adventures in Helicopter Media with Elan Head

The Rotary Wing Show podcast talking with Elan Head about her 15+ years of flying & writing.

Girls Fly Too!

Canada’s First Licensed Female Pilot

Read about Eileen Vollick, the first Canadian woman to get her pilot’s license in 1928. Also the first Canadian woman to parachute into water

Canada’s First Woman to Solo a Helicopter

Read about Dorothy Rungeling and her accomplishments as a female pilot.

First Female Aircraft Mechanic & Licensed Transport Pilot

Phoebe Omlie, noted for her accomplishments as an early female aviator.

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