Meet our founder,
Captain Kirsten Brazier
Airline Transport Rated Pilot
Fixed-wing & Helicopters, Canada/USA
Founder, The Sky's No Limit - Girls Fly Too!
President, Achieve Anything Foundation
Doctor of Technology (honoris causa)
From the beginning...
I was born in Vancouver, BC, the only daughter of two working professional parents. Unfortunately, due to home life troubles, I left home at 15 and have fended for myself ever since.
To support myself I discovered I had to work full time which meant quitting high school and learning some hard life lessons.
Eventually I realized there was more to life than partying and work so I decided to find a way to go back to school, where I hoped to find some direction. I applied for and was granted mature admission to college where I took courses I missed from high school along with university-credit courses.
After a particularly difficult summer semester, I sought out a favourite business professor for guidance. What he had to say changed my life entirely. He told me you spend 80 percent of your life invested in your career, so you better pick something you enjoy doing if you want to enjoy your life.
Shortly afterwards I booked a familiarization flight at a local flight school. My father and uncle had taken me to enjoy many Abbotsford Airshows as a child and I'm sure that exposure was the reason it even occured to me to take this step. I still remember how much fun it was exploring allthe aircraft and plying the crews with questions. I think I was so excited by the novel experience that I didn't notice the absence of women that still persists to this day.
Though flying was fun, it wasn't until I attained my private fixed-wing license and experienced the satisfaction of taking two German friends on a pleasure trip to Tofino that it occured to me to become a professional pilot. I set about achieving my commercial license with multi-engine and instrument ratings, and while doing so began aquiring operational aviation experience to add to my resume.
Credentials in hand, early one February I packed up my dog and all my worldly possessions into my old Mercedes Benz and set out for northern Saskatchewan where I slept in my car at minus 40 on several occasions. Perserverence finally rewarded me with a summer job flying a Cessna 185 float plane.
This lead to a career spanning more than two decades on wheels, floats, skis and skids; covering most of Canada west of Quebec, as well as the United States and the Caribbean.
Over time I earned the Canadian and American Airline Transport licenses for fixed-wing and helicopters.
I gained experience as Chief Pilot and Operations Manager for various operators, and eventually became partner in an air service and maintenance organization that I helped found and license. Later I founded my own consulting company to assist commercial fixed-wing and helicopter operators as well as maintenance organizations with licensing and operating issues.
Over the years I became increasingly frustrated by the low numbers of women in Aviation, and later, in the other high-tech industries we now target with our diversity initiatives. I joined several women's organizations and began mentoring other women but I could see that much more was needed.
In 2012 I organized the first The Sky's No Limit - Girls Fly Too! event during the week of International Women's Day. My goal was to introduce 500 females to flight, but to my surprise it was a challenge to entice girls to the airport. Despite this, 1,500 people attended and 421 females flew for the first time.
In 2013 the event grew to 3,000 participants and 681 females of all ages were introduced to flight. By then I could see the potential for growth as well as the inclusion of other technical industries so in 2014 I moved the event south to Langley, BC. Since then, the events have grown continuously to audiences of over 15,000. The scope has expanded to include Aviation, Aerospace, Marine & Defence since the event moved to the Abbotsford International Airport in 2015.
Out of 25,413 professional pilots in Canada, only 5.8% of them are women. Out of 17,278 aircraft engineers, only 2.3% of them are women. Women account for only 4% of the technical trades and less than 3% of the top command positions in the Canadian Forces.
From the numbers, it would be tempting to conclude that women are either uninterested or unwelcome in these fields. Instead, studies have shown that a common perception persists that Aviation, Aerospace, Marine and Defence are industries reserved for men. From an early age, males and females alike are affected by this perception message, which is continually reinforced by observation (lack of change), media, social media and advertising. The low numbers also mean that most women have no direct family or peer connection to our target industries. Therefore, it is un-reasonable to expect gender and cultural diversity to resolve naturally in these fields.
The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! free outreach events and other initiatives aim to change this perception and awaken new interests by providing females of all ages with fun, interactive, and hands-on introductions into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) based fields.
Our events are completely free for everyone to ensure there are no barriers to participation. This is made possible thanks to the generous support of community and industry partners.
Since the majority of our target female audience have little if any prior exposure to our target industries, before we can engage and inspire these females with the limitless opportunities that await, we must first grab their attention with something truly remarkable. We can think of no better way to do this than by taking them flying for the first time – the first flight experience is so incredible we just have to share it!
Our events are about education and inclusion as much as they are about inspiring our missing demographic. We encourage families to attend to support the daughters of the community and our future leaders. All participants are invited to meet civilian and non-civilian VIPs, explore cool aircraft, equipment and tactical displays, as well as engage in the many hands-on learning activities in Aviation, Aerospace, Marine and Defence.
All ages are welcome at our annual events. In many cultures elders are the leaders within the community - we include the elders in the discovery experience so they will share this incredible experience with other women in their community. We welcome the guardians and other individuals from the girls’ support network to take part in the discovery experience as they are an integral part in encouraging the inspired females to progress in their chosen fields. Lastly, but no less important: it is never too late to be inspired and embrace new challenges.
Following an extremely successful international event in 2016, I founded the Achieve Anything Foundation to help develop and implement year-round projects and programs of lasting value towards inspiring female future leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and STEM-based fields such as Aviation, Aerospace, Marine & Defence. The Achieve Anything Foundation is a Federally Incorporated not-for-profit. To learn more, check out: www.achieveanything.ca
In 2017 The University of the Fraser Valley conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Technology on me in recognition for this work.