When she’s not flying, Envoy First Officer Erica Swenson can be found volunteering with the PreFlight Aviation Camp. Erica first got involved with the camp in 2019 as its mission aligned with her desire to inspire future aviators. Since then, she has continued to volunteer to help support the camp and raise scholarship funds.
PreFlight Aviation Camp is a nonprofit charitable organization that provides a six-day camp and mentorship program for girls, ages 11-14. Using aspects of aviation to build self-esteem, the camp seeks to empower girls to reach their goals and encourage the next generation of pilots.
“You can’t be what you can’t see”
Out of over 664,000 FAA certificated pilots in the United States, only 7.9 percent of them are women and only 4.5 percent of airline pilots are women. PreFlight aims to change that statistic. Despite the number of female aviators being limited, all PreFlight’s counselors are professional female pilots to provide campers a role model from the field.
The camp firmly believes that “seeing is believing” and aims to create an enriching environment where campers can begin to believe that becoming a pilot is a real possibility. The six-day camp culminates with an opportunity for the girls to apply their knowledge in a flight simulator and fly an airplane on a private flight with one of the instructors.
Making an Impact
Last summer, Erica spent a week at PreFlight Camp in Colorado as a counselor where she shared her aviation knowledge. She even channeled her former cheerleader to teach campers chants and cheers to keep the camp spirit alive!
“While our focus is aviation, we also aim to lift these girls up at an age where they are coming into their own through positive life messages and lessons,” Erica said. “I love the opportunity to engage with these young women and hopefully be a part of their journey to the flight deck.”