Young women get sneak peek at a career in aviation at O’Hare Airport

CHICAGO — In the hustle and bustle of O’Hare Airport this weekend, it was all about girl power.

“It can really open your mind to see what you’d like to do,” Monica Salvas said.

About 45 girls from ages nine to 18 were at O’Hare for the day getting a behind-the-scenes look at the world of aviation.

It’s a world Chris Lapacek, United Grounds Operations, knows very well. In a way, she’s a pioneer having worked for United Airlines for 31 years.

“I think it’s awesome we can get the kids out here and look at the airplanes and get them more interested in a career in the airline field,” Lapacek said.

The girls saw every aspect of what it takes to run an airline–flight and tech operations, ramp services, security and customer service. It was an eye-opening experience that meant a lot to the girls.

“I think it would be good to have more females to inspire other ones, and whenever I see a female pilot I get so excited because people are like, ‘Yeah, you can’t do that,’ but I know I can,” Monica Salvas, a future pilot, said.

“Seeing their energy, their enthusiasm, all the questions that they ask, it gives me a lot of satisfaction at working at United and being able to explain to them what we do and show them the different parts of the airport that they may have never seen,” Michelle Brown, United customer service, said.

A different world, that’s opening its doors to women, from the youngest of ages. It’s making a difference.

“I still remember just starting at United and being able to go out to the ramp and meet a plane, or going inside a plane—inside a cockpit. So having these girls, some as young as eight up to high schoolers, it’s really special,” Brown said.

Girls in Aviation Day happens each September.  If you’re interested for next year, United begins taking applications for it a month in advance.


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