A longtime Airport Authority employee, Marcia Strang was recently named a winner in the Business Award category of the 2013 Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Awards, which recognize and honour outstanding achievements of women in aviation and aerospace in Canada.
Q. When did you first become interested in aviation?
I had a friend who invited me to come join the Air Cadets when I was 15. It was a fun group and when I heard I could learn to fly, then I was hooked.
Q. What was your first flight?
My first familiarization flight was with the air cadets. You look down on your world with a completely different perspective. At age 17, I flew gliders and by age 18, I flew powered aircraft.
Q. What was your favourite flight?
Tough question! The first time I flew a glider solo, I remember how quiet it was, nobody was talking and there was no engine sound. My husband and I owned a single seat Pitts Special S1S where I learned to do aerobatics. I love the feeling of a loop where you pull up until you see the sky and then go over until you see the ground again. You really do see your whole world turned upside down. Then there was the time my husband Gavin and I flew across Canada to a rally. We were the only aircraft among 12,000 to fly a Fleet Canuck, which was built in Canada in 1946.
Q. You were selected for a Northern Lights Award for your contribution to the industry. What do you see as your greatest contribution?
I’ve always been excited about being in the aviation industry, whether it was in the Air Cadets, working in many different roles at Vancouver Airport Authority or volunteering. But my passion is to help bring other people, especially women, into aviation. Currently fewer than five per cent of commercial pilots are women. I think if more women were aware of the industry at a younger age, they would want to be a part of it. One of the things I love doing is going to schools and talking to kids at a young age to make sure they know how great the industry is.
Q. How does the aviation industry inspire you in your daily work?
I’ve been involved in a few different roles with the Airport Authority, but the piece I enjoy most is the training and teaching. I’ve been responsible for organizing the past few major full-scale training exercises at YVR, including our exercise in April that was the largest exercise we have ever hosted at YVR. The greatest success of the exercise to me was having so many different agencies and partners work together and learn from each other. That’s a personal victory for me.
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