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Open house pushes for more women in aviation: Sask. Air Ambulance

The Saskatchewan Air Ambulance team held an open house in Saskatoon on Wednesday to promote women in aviation.

Members of the SAA team discussed their roles, training and experience with students interested in aviation careers.

SAA captain and pilot Tammie Kulyk said her job doesn’t feel like work.

“I come to work and play everyday,” she said. “It has its challenges, but it also has the benefit of working with everyone else who truly loves their job.”

She said she found her love for flying when she was young at airshows in Moose Jaw.

Kulyk’s favorite part about her job is seeing the views from the sky.

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“You see the most amazing sunsets. You think it looks good outside your kitchen window? You should see it from 20,000 feet. It’s truly breathtaking.”

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The awareness week serves to address the gender imbalance in the air and space industry.

The SAA flies about one million kilometres every year, transferring patients and providing 24-hour medical evacuation.

“Historically, there has been an imbalance with men and women in aviation,” said Dan Knisley, director at Saskatchewan Air Ambulance.

Ellian Singkala, who is working towards her commercial pilot licence, said there are lots of different ways to help women get into the skies.

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“There is the university route, you can take it privately, there are online courses you can take, and then find a flight school that you can fly with.”

Knisley and Kulyk said there is currently a global demand for pilots and maintenance engineers in the industry.

“There are so many amazing jobs here other than just being a pilot,” Kulyk said, listing air traffic control, fuellers, ground handlers, dispatchers, tech records, communication, HR and marketing and some examples. “We all need those jobs to make aviation run.”

She said even though aviation is a male-dominant field, it is nothing but welcoming.

“Not only do we have women supporting women in aviation, we have men supporting women in aviation. Not just today, but every day.”

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Kulyk said she was part of the SAA’s first all-female crew in 2019, made up of two pilots and two emergency responders.

“It’s very rewarding, very fun and every day is different.”

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