Women of Aviation Week Profile – Laura Matheson
March 5-11 is Women of Aviation Worldwide Week. COPA is proud to support this and the many other initiatives that work tirelessly to promote women’s involvement in all different aspects of the aviation industry. Each day during WOAW week, we are profiling a COPA member who is promoting aviation in her own area of the industry.
Today’s WOAW member profile is Laura Matheson, of Ontario, who works in airport operations at the Carp airport and is currently completing her Commercial Pilot License. We asked Laura about what inspired her to get involved in aviation, about her plans for the future, and how she sees COPA’s role in aviation:
What inspired you to get involved in aviation?
When I was a little girl, my Dad went outside with me one night and pointed out constellations above our house. I was completely enamoured by the stars and decided then to be an astronaut. I have been interested in aviation since then – even if astronaut is not the goal anymore. My parents have been fantastic in helping me explore career and aviation opportunities from a young age, and have willingly learned with me along the way. Falling in love with the stars made it clear to me at a young age that the sky is not the limit, merely the beginning.
Tell us a short history of your aviation career up to now
I studied Aviation Management at an Ontario Flight College, graduating as the one of eight – and the only woman – in June 2017. This past autumn I began working as the Ramp and FBO Attendant with MNB Aviation at the Carp Airport (CYRP), working with Airport Management to ensure a welcoming and professional environment for all.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Though it may sound trite, I would have to say the people are my favourite part. I have been so fortunate to become a member of the General Aviation Community through my job, having the range of opportunities from taking part in local fly–ins to gaining an understanding of the GA needs both locally and across Canada. In addition, of course, the times where I am invited as a passenger with the pilots whose aircraft are based at the airport. It is a great community of people to be a part of, and I recognize that every day.
I absolutely love my job, as it is a great way to pay your dues, work your way up in aviation, and network. Through the job, I have also gained a huge appreciation for all facets of aviation, and truly come to understand the huge team that goes into every successful flight beyond just flight crew. Runways need to be cleared, fuel trucks need to be ready, and good coffee should always be available for anyone about to go flying.
I like to say I am still at the point where everything in aviation excites me, and I know that I want to do as much of it as possible. I pursued my Seaplane endorsement in 2016 and would truly love to have a few years working floats, but I would equally love to fly for geosurveying groups, medevac, regional charter and even aircraft ferrying work. If it is a flying job, chances are I am interested!
What do you do in your spare time?
A lot of studying and as much flying as I can when the weather cooperates! I can also usually be found scoping out cross country skiing and hiking trails, and plane spotting.
What are you doing to encourage other girls and women to get into aviation?
I joined as a member of my local Ninety – Nines, Inc. chapter in 2016 and with them have participated in Girls Fly Day and the Girl Guides of Canada helping them to gain their Aviation Badges. It was an incredible day getting to share my love of aviation with these young girls, and made me only a little jealous since that badge did not exist when I was a Girl Guide!
I am a member of Elevate Aviation, an organization dedicated to providing a platform for women to thrive and succeed through aviation through mentorship. I have been working with them to recruit women for their tour date in Ottawa in early March. We were fortunate enough to fill all the seats with a mix of high school students and women already working towards aviation careers.
Networking, showing other woman that they can pursue this too, and by simply being a woman in aviation is a great way to promote aviation careers to other women.
What does COPA mean to you? What are some of the ways the organization might help women get their start in aviation?
COPA for me represents the front line of aviation in Canada. Advancing, preserving and promoting the general aviation community, keeping landing fees at certain airports that are practical to keep private pilots flying there, and being the advocating voice of the aviation community in Canada are all-important in furthering aviation. A lot of working pilots and aviation enthusiasts get there start through exposure to the general aviation community, and it needs to be protected for future aviators.
Studies have shown that one of the biggest reasons why more woman do not pursue aviation careers is directly linked to not seeing contemporary woman who are celebrated. I would suggest that COPA continue showcasing both female members and non – members alike who are out there in aviation. Highlighting these women in all aviation roles is integral to drawing more woman in; if we can see other women already represented in that role, it makes it easier to see ourselves there. Women and girl networking events, flying days, different open houses open to high school students, and having women working in aviation visiting schools for career days would be the best way to help women and girls get their start.