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GALA event raises more than $20,000 for scholarship to help young women in aviation

On March 19, Aviation enthusiasts from Tampa Bay came together to support Women in Aviation at the first ever GALA event. The GALA, which stands for Girls Achieving Leadership in Aviation, was organized to raise funds to provide scholarships to young women in the community looking for a future in the aviation industry.

The event, which raised more than $20,000 with 150 attendees, was hosted by the Tampa Bay Women in Aviation chapter in partnership with Tampa International Airport, Sheltair and other local aviation partners. The Tampa Bay Chapter of Women in Aviation will manage and distribute the scholarships from the funds. 

Guests enjoyed small plates and catering by Mise En Place as well as cocktails on the ramp at Peter O. Knight. Surrounded with old-school aircraft, the space took on an air of the 1940s with help from The Deleon Band  singing tunes reminiscent of the period.

Dorothy Cochrane, an aeronautics curator with the Smithsonian Museum and the first speaker of the night, focused on the history behind the first all-women airshow that took place 75 years ago. Dorothy also spoke about Betty Skelton,  the “First Lady of Firsts”,  and her contributions to the show as well as her history in the aviation and automobile industry which included setting 17 aviation and race car068_HCAA_GALA_3-19-2022_CAKE records.

 The second speaker of the night was Shanan Gibson, Dean of the college of business at Embry Riddle, who focused on the present women in aviation, speaking about present and past students to pass through Embry Riddle and how the aviation industry has impacted their lives.

The keynote speaker, retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, shared her journey in the aviation industry as well as her time in the astronaut program and women's belief in themselves and what they can do.

“It’s all about perspective,” Stott said.

Jane Davis Doggett, responsible for the blue and red wayfinding system at TPA as well as her groundbreaking designs in many other airports, was also in attendance. She was presented the Spirit of Flight Honoree award by TPA CEO Joe Lopano for her work in the aviation industry.

The night concluded with lots of conversation and dancing with the beautifully lit Tampa skyline in the background.

Watch FOX 13's coverage of Saturday night's GALA here.