Despite what airline ads might lead you to believe, not every woman in the airline industry is a flight attendant. In this week's Village Voice, the female students at Aviation High in Long Island City, Queens are profiled. At Aviation, students are taught to become licensed airplane mechanics, and, not surprisingly, the male to female ratio is a little...uneven. But even though 14% of Aviation's student body is female, these burgeoning airplane fixers are no shrinking violets; in fact, there is a disproportionate amount of women filling leadership positions. "This year, all the officers of Pegasus, an honors society for shop classes, are girls. Last year, [senior Estrella] Ham was third in a line of female wing commanders of ROTC, which is the largest and most respected extracurricular activity at the school," first semester wing commander, Ana Sanchez, tells the Voice. "We deal with something the boys don't deal with. We have to prove ourselves. It's not going to be just as easy for me to pick up a tire as it is for a boy who weighs more than I do and is taller than me and is stronger than me, but I'm going to have to get the job done eventually."
Aviation High is similar to another public school that was featured by the Voice back in November 2006, Brooklyn's Automotive High School. The girls at Auto High, where teens learn the skills to become auto mechanics, were even more in the minority than at Aviation: there were 66 girls and 1,000 boys roaming the halls at Auto when the article was written. But that doesn't mean those girls weren't feisty as hell. Auto senior Analise Rivera told the Voice: "I can tell my father what's wrong [with his car]. I say, 'Yo, Papi. Something's wrong with your struts, mad wrong.'"
The relatively high percentage of women at Aviation High could actually positively affect the percentage of women in the aviation field, as 12% of of all airplane mechanics in the United States are Aviation alums. Estrella Ham, the wing commander at Aviation, just received a full scholarship to the Air Force. These ballsy broads are taking over the sky, one airplane at a time. Maybe they can even help fix up those ailing American Airlines jets!