March 8, 2020

Attendance and enthusiasm were high throughout the 31st Annual Women in Aviation International (WAI) Conference, which took place March 5-7 in Orlando, FL, and included representation from NBAA.

Conference organizers reported close to 4,500 attendees, including 142 international representatives from 31 countries. The exhibit hall hosted 180 separate companies and organizations, representing all aspects of the aviation community.

“Our number of attendees and exhibitors were at record levels,” said WAI Outreach Director Molly Martin. “We were pleased with the strong attendance, and of course, the energy level the WAI Annual Conference is known for.”

Conference presenter Jo Damato, NBAA’s vice president of educational strategy and workforce development and a longtime WAI member, also reported a strong show. “Exhibits were fully staffed, the exhibit floor was packed to the point it was nearly impossible to move in some areas and the sessions were well-attended to overflowing,” she added.

Damato also pointed to standing-room-only crowds for Friday’s keynote presentation featuring Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, and Boeing Global Services Vice-President and Chief Engineer Joan Robinson-Berry, as well as a luncheon featuring NASA astronaut Col. Eileen Collins, NASA astronaut and the first woman to pilot a space shuttle mission.

While concerns about the COVID-19 virus continue to dominate headlines, Damato noticed only a minor difference at this year’s WAI Conference over past years. “Elbow bumps and toe taps replaced handshakes and hugs,” she said. “But there is no damper on the level of enthusiasm here.”