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Love of aviation takes off for first-time fliers

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — Caroline Morris was giggling so hard the 8-year-old could barely tell people how she felt about her first airplane flight at the Girls Fly event March 11 at Ocala International Airport.

“It was scary but awesome,” Caroline managed to get out between laughs as local pilot and aviation writer Judie Betz helped unfasten the first-time flier’s safety harness and earphones following a 15-minute introductory flight.

The flight reached an altitude of 2,000 feet and a cruising speed of about 120 mph. Caroline got to take the controls and turn the aircraft.

“I saw trees and beautiful houses,” Caroline said. She was at the event with her mother Carolyn and sister Victoria, 17. The family lives in Summerfield.

Caroline loved it so much she said she would definitely go flying again.

Betz, a pilot for 30 years, was one of several pilots providing the introductory flights. Betz flew her pink plane named “Bella Rose,” which is painted with flowers.

The annual event, which is offered by the Women of Aviation Worldwide during Women in Aviation Week, is aimed at encouraging girls in the sport and business of aviation.

It included a ground-instruction class on aircraft fundamentals, a tour of the airport control tower and seminars by women involved in different aspects of aviation.

Women in Aviation week is observed in March when the first woman received a private pilot’s license in 1910, according to Carol Ann Garratt, 62, who has made three flights around the world in her Mooney airplane.

Garratt, an invited presenter who conducted several of the programs, said only about 6 percent of people involved in aviation are women. The programs’ message is “you can do it,” Garratt said.

The introductory flight for participants are organized by the Experimental Airplane Association‘s local chapter 812.

According to Warren Levin with the EAA chapter, 23 girls in the Young Eagles program were set to take introductory flights and receive a Log Book that…

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