Girls everywhere can train to earn their wings by participating in a training program that can be seen as a gift to those in need.
Girl In Flight Training, or GIFT week, is once a year event that provides the opportunity for women in any phase of their flight training to come together to further motivate their aviation training. The creator of the program, Mary Latimer, saw a need to reach out to women interested in learning about flying or continuing that have felt either intimidated, fearful, frustrated and even the factor of being the only female in the room at a flight school. This week long clinic addresses these issues and further women in their aviation endeavors.
Women pilots comprise of less than 6% of the pilot population and this percentage has held steady for the last 100 years. The goal is to identify and to address the various issues that may be causing women to abandon flight training, and to assist them overcoming those obstacles.
She hopes to create a network of peers, mentors, role models, and instructors to encourage women of all ages to pursue their goals in aviation and to overcome the obstacles that interfere with their flight training. Their end goal to have other flight schools create their own GIFT events across the country.
Mary and her husband, Lawrence, serve as the head instructors of this academy, with her daughter Tamara Griffith of Justin, Texas and even granddaughter Amanda Griffith of Elk City, serving as certified flight instructors. Additional instructors also volunteer their time and knowledge, to include Lou Fausek from Dallas,Joe Smith, with the Boeing Co at SAFB, Devon McCollough from Cobra Kai Flight School at Kickapoo airport and Harriet Smith from Wichita Falls Civil Air Patrol who is helping with Operations.
The first clinic was held in July of 2011. In 2013 they became an official 501.3c shortly after the success of the 2012 event. GIFT has now licensed 26 female pilots since the conception of GIFT. Students from around the world include Hong Kong, and across the United States. The bonding between the ladies has continued to encourage and support their training and flying opportunities
GIFT has been acknowledged by AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), Twins and Turbines, Flight Instructor Magazine. Mary was honored by being the SW region Certified Flight Instructor
GIFT is not a formal academy. They are known for their part 61 style flight training, meaning they don't have a strict syllabus or plan of action other than those requirements set by the FAA.
The Flight line is at the Wilbarger county airport main terminal and some of the advanced students are training in Instrument Instruction.