HOUSTON (KIAH) — At 16 years old, Aaliyha Hunter has already logged seven hours of flight time behind the controls of small planes with an instructor by her side.
The junior at Davis High School in the Aldine Independent School District is learning to fly at the Texas Flight flight school as part of her normal school day.
“I just love being in the sky,” Hunter said.
On Tuesday, she missed her flight lesson — but for a good reason.
Hunter was among the 30 or so young women from several Houston-area schools that took part in the Girls in Aviation Day event that United Airlines put on at Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The girls attended several presentations giving them information about all of the jobs that are available to them in the aviation industry.
Two United flight attendants spoke about traveling around the world but also managing dozens of people in a confined space for hours at a time.
There was also information about airplane maintenance, working at airport gates, and other positions.
But for Hunter, there’s only one aviation job on her radar screen — piloting.
“Going forward career-wise,” she said, “I see myself flying private jets for people who’d like to do that. I would love flying private jets. And then I’d probably do helicopters too if I have the opportunity and sea planes.”
She’s trying to crack into a male-dominated field.
The U.S. Civil Airmen organization reports that, of the more than 600,000 pilots nationwide, only 10% of them are women.
Hunter says it’s time for that to change, and events like Girls in Aviation Day could help do that.
“There’s actually like two (female) pilots in my school,” she said. “It’s me and this other girl. And I’m trying to get more, because we need more women. We need way more women.”