Kirsten Brazier, founder of Girls Fly Too

Local pilot urges girls to fly too!

When I met with Kirsten Brazier, she was in the midst of replacing the brakes on her car. “No photos today, Dennis!” she warned me, as I noticed a few smears of grease on her face and hands. It was no surprise that someone who understands airplanes and helicopters from the inside out would take on a simple brake job for her car.

Kirsten is the inspiration and driving force behind the highly successful The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! events that have taken place each of the past four years: twice in Yellowknife, last year in Langley and this month in Abbotsford. In an industry overwhelmingly dominated by men, this female pilot with over 20 years of experience is announcing to women of the world, “You can have a great career here!”

The drawing card of the Girls Fly Too event is the promise of a free flight for any female of any age. And while piloting is a great way to go, what she really counts on is the sewing of career-producing seeds in the many other aspects of the aviation industry that are on display. Girls can try their hand at riveting, wrenching on an engine, using a flight simulator, interacting with RCAF and Coast Guard rescue crews and tracking the location of airplanes all across the continent.

Having just completed its fourth year, Girls Fly Too! has drawn a larger crowd every year. Highlights of this year’s success in Abbotsford includes visits by Wendy Lawrence, a NASA astronaut as well as BC’s Lieutenant Governor plus a growing base of sponsors and exhibitors.

So, who is Kirsten Brazier and what motivates her to add a full-time, unpaid job to her already busy lifestyle, chasing after everyone possible in the industry to come to the table for the benefit of women and their career opportunities?

Girls go for a free helicopter flight at Girls Fly Too
Excitement in the moments before her first ever helicopter flight.

After surviving a tumultuous time through her formative years, Kirsten eventually decided it was time to ‘get responsible’ as she told me and chose to tackle a degree in commerce, just like her Dad. Not being one who can sit in a desk all day and study statistics all night, she floundered until a wise teacher counselled her to look within, ultimately leading her to the aviation industry. Starting out in menial roles, she became a pilot and reached a turning point when she successfully flew some visiting German friends to Tofino in a Cessna. “I can see myself doing this for a living!” she realized and began a journey of working with a series of air operators across the country, always gaining new skills and mastering new aircraft.

Her advancement in the field was matched by her hungry determination to learn and succeed. Her many roles included dispatch, flying to remote aboriginal communities and mining settlements while being certified to land with skis and floats, moving on to large multi-engine aircraft and eventually, helicopters.

In a 20 year period she held many jobs all over Canada and with most, she was the first and only female to be hired. The statistics for women in aviation in Canada and the world are startling. About 6% of our professional pilots are women and only about 3% are employed in related fields such as technicians, engineers, mechanics or navigators.

Kirsten emphatically points out that girls and their parents today, when considering career options, think of traditional fields such as doctors, lawyers or teachers. A career in aviation is not even on the radar. Why not? Well, why would it be when it is so dominated by males? And that is the door that Kirsten has a passion to open for females.

The Girls Fly Too! events are unique in the recruiting field. She’s fierce about making it free, hands on and interactive as well as including family. When hearing criticism that elderly women were taken on free flights, Kirsten explained that when parents and grandparents recognize the value in these options and talk about them at home, there is support for girls to consider the field. As well, she feels there are ample opportunities in general aviation for those of any age who become bitten with the flying bug.

As we got to this point in our conversation, Kirsten’s passion for her mission and clarity of her goal had become like a jet engine at full speed. “We’ve got lots of kids (“and adults too!” she adds) with no direction in their lives and they’re not going to think of the aviation field. We just need to get their attention and mesmerize them with the possibilities so they can receive the message.”

It’s an opportunity that Kirsten, once herself a directionless young woman, would surely have missed without the guidance of her college teacher. Now, she has seized upon the opportunity to do the same for others. And this is what makes Kirsten Brazier a Difference-Maker.


Kirsten Brazier at the Langley 2014 The Sky's No Limit - Girls Fly Too! event
Kirsten Brazier at the Langley 2014 The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! event
Young girl uses a Flight Simulator at Girls Fly Too
A young girl tries her hand at a flight simulator.
Girls use aircraft tools
Hands on with airline tools.
Checking out one of many computers on board the NavCanada jet.
Checking out one of many computers on board the NavCanada jet.
Tightening the nuts and bolts on a jet engine.
Tightening the nuts and bolts on a jet engine
When parents attend with their daughters, there is support at home for careers in aviation.
When parents attend with their daughters, there is support at home for careers in aviation.
Kirsten (second from left) sharing a laugh with a a female flight crew
Kirsten (second from left) sharing a laugh with a a female flight crew