United Airlines hosts "Girls in Aviation Day" in Denver

When girls in Colorado want to explore a future in aviation they don't have to look far for incredible stories of success. At their annual "Girls in Aviation Day" event, women who help operate the Denver Hub for United Airlines showed off how many career paths their industry provides for girls and women.

Recently the airline, Denver's largest private employer, hosted dozens of girls at the United Airlines hangar at Denver International Airport. The girls, from many age ranges, were brought aboard different aircraft and were given the opportunity to not only hear about job opportunities, but also give them a try.

"You always see (the behind the scenes of the airline industry) in movies, but you don't always see it in real life," said Denna Scott, a 14-year-old who attended the event.

 / Credit: CBS
/ Credit: CBS

One of the women the girls were introduced to has made history at United Airlines. At just 28-years-old, Adriana Bendeck Rodriguez is United Airlines' youngest female captain. Based in Denver, she was able to show the girls what a living example of success can be.

"They get to talk to us about how we got here in the first place," Bendeck Rodriguez said.

For many employees their love for aviation started at a young age and only blossomed from there. Bendeck Rodriguez said she first discovered aviation through her stepfather. He bought her flight lessons as a gift when she was 15.

"It was a Christmas present. We took off and I decided this is what I want to do," Bendeck Rodriguez said. "I hope they see me as an example, I hope they see my story and know they can get here."

The girls were able to sit in the cockpit, try out giving seatbelt instructions over the intercom, learn about the mechanics of the airplanes and even try out life as a ramp worker.

"We are empowering them to follow their dreams. And, hopefully they follow their dreams into aviation," said Jonna McGrath, VP of Airport Operations for the United Denver Hub.

McGrath is another example of a woman in aviation who is someone the girls can aspire to be one day.

 / Credit: CBS
/ Credit: CBS

McGrath, recently hired over the summer, is now the first woman to ever serve as the VP of the Denver Hub.

"I started (my aviation career) loading bags on the ramp," McGrath said. "I never dreamed about being in aviation (as a child). I was asked by someone that was in aviation at a very young age, and it got in my blood."

The staff that volunteered their time at the event said they hoped they were sparking similar dreams and aspirations within the girls who attended the event. And, some told CBS News Colorado that the day helped them realize the opportunities they have.

"Maybe I could be a pilot, see how it is. Or, a flight attendant," said Zoe Figueroa, a 14-year-old student. "I think I would want to be an engineer, it looks really cool."

"It is really nice to see (examples of women in the industry). Because, sometimes in the media you hear about how women aren't in the roles enough, they aren't in the roles period. Although it is true that there aren't enough women in the role, it is nice to see that it is not true that there aren't any," Scott said.

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