It’s been two years since Vera Martinovich flew a DC-3 plane.
As she guided the 1940s low-wing twin-engine monoplane over Deer Park and downtown Spokane, she gave the 10 Girl Scouts aboard the flight a chance to see a once-in-a-lifetime view of the city in a plane that once traveled from Miami to the Himalayan mountains.
On Saturday morning, the Historic Flight Foundation hosted 20 Girl Scout members at the hangar for two complementary rides as a reward to the 20 young girls who each donated at least 150 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the U.S. military. One group of 10 took off at 8:30 a.m., and the next flight left at 10:30 .
Martinovich was the pilot for the two flights. She also works as an aerodynamics engineer.
As someone who was part of the Girl Scout organization in rural Iowa, she said she enjoyed seeing how much it has grown in its support of young girls.
“I didn’t have these same opportunities, but it still was about the acknowledgment that girls deserve a path, a space of their own,” Martinovich said.
In a male-dominated industry such as aviation, Martinovich said all it takes is a spark for a young girl to be inspired to pursue a career in STEM.
Scout Kaitlynne Harrington, 15, said she wasn’t much of a flier, but she enjoyed the chance to learn about the history of the plane.
“My little sister actually wanted to take my spot and I told her no,” she said. “It’s been really fun.”
The event had been scheduled for 2020, but the pandemic upended those plans, the foundation’s founder, John Sessions, said.
Sessions opened the Historic Flight Foundation north of Seattle in 2005, then moved locations to Spokane in December 2019 – only three months before a statewide lockdown.
While the foundation managed to get grants and donations to weather the financial challenges, Sessions said they had to postpone the Girl Scouts flight until this summer.
Brian Newberry, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, said he felt grateful for Sessions making the flight happen.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now with the girls, so I asked (Sessions) around last month, can we maybe plan something like this now? And he said, ‘Well, let’s say July 10,’ ” Newberry said. “It was very generous of him.”
Though the National Weather Service in Spokane issued a smoke advisory Friday, Martinovich said the smoke did not pose a concern. As an experienced pilot and engineer, Martinovich has seen worse conditions.
“I wanted to engage with them (the Scouts) and maybe ease their fears a bit, show them that this is safe and supposed to be fun,” she said.
Sessions said the event centered on young girls is fitting for their postpandemic full reopening, as aviation still lacks the representation it needs.
“I think it’s important to see yourself as someone who can do this,” Sessions said. “The leaders – the Girl Scouts – are emerging through this example of being successful with the sales.”
The Girl Scouts were tasked with getting at least 150 boxes in donations from buyers to the military. The 20 chosen Scouts were the ones who exceeded that goal, so Newberry worked with Sessions to get them on a vintage plane.
“Whether it’s leadership building, whether it’s to excite a passion that goes in a different direction or whether they consider aviation to be something that they want to pursue further, it’s all good,” Sessions said. “You can’t really channel a kid; you can only show them what’s out there.”
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