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Elevate Aviation

Cassandra Hepp gives a tour of the aircraft at Summit Air.

Igniting a passion for the industry

Elevate Aviation was formed from a desire to help women find lives they love through an avenue they most likely have never considered — aviation.

Beginning with an aviation calendar, Elevate Aviation has evolved into so much more. Realizing a need to bring women together in the industry, a mentorship program was formed, followed by involvement in community events to bring awareness to careers in aviation, speaking engagements in schools and organizations, bursaries, the ‘Economic Security for Women through Aviation’ project (ESWA), the Elevate Aviation Learning Centre and the Cross-Country tour.

The Cross-Country tour and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) convention took us to Yellowknife this year for the first time. We were honoured to join forces with NATA and help kick off their convention with our stop at the Yellowknife airport.

In 2014, we brought a group of young women to the Edmonton Airport and created a day to take them on a tour inside the industry. When we put that day together, we had no idea that five years later we would have the Cross-Country tour, which this year landed in 20 locations including every province and territory in Canada.

This project requires a huge amount of organization and a ton of support from industry partners and volunteers, but it is totally worth all the effort when we see young women showing great interest in finding a career in this industry.

The annual Cross-Country Tour in Yellow knife allowed attendees to spend the day with women in the industry, hear inspirational stories of their journeys into aviation, and take a tour in the afternoon to see up close why these women love their careers. Summit Air generously opened their doors to provide space for our speakers as well as tours in the afternoon.

We took participants on a behindthe- scenes tour where they learned how hydraulics raise and lower airplane tires, about the logistics of running the operation, had a flight simulator experience with Alkan Air, crawled around an airplane and sat in the flight deck, and had a tour up to the Nav Canada tower.

Elevate Aviation in Yellowknife. From left: Lindsay Murphy, AME Flair; Sophia Wells, Pilot Instructor, Edmonton Flying Club; Cassandra Hepp, AME Summit Air; Kendra Kincade, Air Traffic Controller with Edmonton Centre and founder of Elevate Aviation; Michelle Burtch, First Air Pilot; Maxie Plante, Summit Air Pilot; Cheyenne Boutilier, CARs Operator, Fort Simpson.

At the end of the tour, participants are offered a mentor from our mentorship program. This program is called ‘Elevate Aviation’s Flight Path to Success,’ and is a five-tier mentorship program that provides support to women either looking to get into aviation or already in aviation who want to connect with successful women in the field. This approach helps introduce a ‘try before you buy’ experience for those looking at aviation for the first time and supports women who are already in the field.

Cassandra Hepp, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer from Summit Air, helped facilitate the day and showed participants why aircraft maintenance is so important to aviation. There were many more people involved in creating this day and we want to extend the warmest thank you to all of them for making it possible.

With over 90 mentors from coast to coast and over 400 mentees currently in the program which include a number from our military mentorship program, anyone who may be interested in learning more about aviation careers is encouraged to contact Elevate Aviation.

You can read more about these programs at elevateaviation.ca including the Elevate Aviation Learning Centre in Edmonton where the mission is to provide participants with the most authentic, memorable, and life-changing aviation experience possible and to ignite passion for the industry. The Elevate Aviation Learning Centre immerses students and the general public in rich, weeklong experiences using the resources and expertise at the Edmonton Inter national Airport and surrounding sites through collaboration with education, business, and industry partners. We are currently looking for more partners to help take this experience across Canada, including Canada’s northern communities.

VIAKendra Kincade
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