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Habitat for Aviation All-Girls Plane Build Featured on PBS


Habitat for Aviation All-Girls Plane Build Featured on PBS

Our partner Beth White was spotlighted recently in an episode of “Brief But Spectacular” on PBS NewsHour. White, a seasoned pilot, narrates the story of how she pulled together a group of young women in Vermont to work together to build a plane.

“One day I looked around after getting my pilot’s license and working on these airplanes and I realized wow, I am like the only woman here at the airport and there aren’t very many youth,” White says in the story. “I couldn’t think of a better idea than to have a group of girls and women working together to build an airplane.”

The effort, dubbed “Women Build Planes,” is being managed by Habitat for Aviation, a Vermont-based organization White founded.

The build started with the purchase of a RANS S-21 Outbound two-seater airplane kit in October 2023. Since then, Habitat for Aviation has received over 90 donations towards their efforts and support from a variety of sources, including EAA Chapter 613, the Robert and Rhea Brooks Family Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation, Green Mountain Power, George W. Mergens Foundation, and 100 Women Who Care Franklin County. As of February 2024, the rudder and vertical stabilizer had been completed, the horizontal stabilizer and elevators were not far behind, and the wings will be built next.

“For the first time in history a group of all women and girls are constructing an airplane,” White says.

The goal of Habitat of Aviation is to support the next generation of aviation maintenance technicians and avionics specialists. They are making this happen by offering apprenticeship opportunities built on strong mentorship provided by welcoming and supportive adults.

“A mentor is a person who comes to deeply know you and then does what they can to leverage their connections, their social capital, to help you in your path, in your journey,” White says. “My work in the world is to start asking the really tough questions about conventional school, and how we can do things differently.”

White is a member of the Harbor Freight Leadership Lab, a multi-sector initiative that brings together leaders from across the skilled trades ecosystem to elevate the effectiveness of skilled trades education leaders. She also serves as a Regional Coordinator for Big Picture Learning, a grantee of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.

Harbor Freight Leadership Lab and Harbor Freight Tools for Schools are registered trademarks licensed by The Smidt Foundation.