Last weekend I had the privilege of traveling to Dallas, Texas for the Women in Aviation, International (WAI) Conference. Every year the conference brings together almost 5,000 aviation professionals from all over the world. The purpose of the conference is to promote women in the aviation field. I have never seen so many women pilots in my life. It was awesome!! The conference consists of an exhibit hall (where all of the companies get their own booth), opening receptions each morning with keynote speakers, education sessions with speakers, interviews, and the closing banquet on the last night. Besides bringing professionals, the conference also attracts many students from the WAI Chapters all over the world.
The journey to get to Dallas began at 3AM on Thursday morning. The ERAU WAI Chapter got together and drove to Orlando (MCO) to catch our 6AM flight to Atlanta. Our flight ended up having electrical problems, so we had to wait inside the plane for 40 minutes while it was being fixed. This put us an hour behind schedule and on track to miss our next flight in Atlanta. Luckily, due to a lot of snow on the taxiways and ramps in Dallas, our flight from Atlanta to Dallas was also delayed by an hour! Miraculously, we made it to Dallas. Once we got there we went straight to our hotel, which was HUGE! I guess it really is true; everything’s bigger in Texas.
It’s a good thing the hotel was massive because the conference was huge, too! I didn’t realize how many people attend the WAI Conference every year. It really was a great opportunity to network with some very experienced aviation professionals.
Each day I attended the opening reception, the exhibit halls, and a few education sessions. The opening reception was filled with women and it was a wonderful chance to go sit with someone new and connect with them. Every woman I met was very willing to share her story and her love of aviation. The exhibit hall was very intimidating at first. It was comprised of hundreds of booths, all with very powerful companies in the aviation industry. Once I got used to it, I talked with many companies and made some great connections. Lastly, each day I would attend at least one education session. These were smaller lectures about a specific topic. Some of the ones I attended were about the Women of The Boeing Company, how to find business fraud, and an education session about 9/11 from the experience of a fighter pilot. Overall, the business side of the conference was amazing. I met so many interesting women who were eager to talk to me as a student. I am definitely planning on attending next year in Nashville, Tennessee!
Now for the exploration side of the conference trip! Of course, since I was in Dallas, a city which I had never been to before, I wanted to go explore the town. We found the best burger place in Dallas, Rodeo Goat, and realized it was just a few minutes walk from our hotel. One afternoon we went and had lunch and it was awesome! I believe in never eating somewhere while you’re on vacation that you could eat at while you’re at home, so Rodeo Goat definitely fit my mantra.
One night, the entire ERAU WAI Chapter went out to eat at Medieval Times. If you are not aware, Medieval Times is a dinner show where you eat everything with your hands while watching knights on horseback dual for the princess. The dinner experience is like no other. We cheered on our blue knight as we ate the dragon scales (potato skins), baby dragon (chicken), and drank dragons blood (tomato soup).
The last night of conference, a few friends and I went out to downtown Dallas. Downtown Dallas is not very active at night since it is a business district, so we went to Uptown instead! It was crazy! The restaurants all along the streets were packed with people out having a good time. Later, we went to a small TexMex restaurant and had the most delicious shrimp tacos I have ever had. It was great to get out and explore some of what Dallas has to offer.
In closing, the 2015 Women in Aviation, International Conference was well worth the travel and missing a few days of class. Although very tiring, it was my first opportunity to experience a business conference and network with people. I recommend attending at least one time, even if you are not a pilot, or a woman for that matter! You will be able to take away so many great connections and memories from the conference.
Until next time,