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A new non-profit organization in Las Vegas called the Abingdon Foundation is bringing its first sponsorship recipient to Heli-Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Feb. 27 to March 1 in order to introduce a young woman to explore the helicopter industry as a recreation or career.
The inaugural sponsorship for the Abingdon Foundation has been awarded to its first winner, Holly Gardel. Gardel will be provided round-trip airfare, accommodations, and registration to Heli-Expo 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In what is considered the beginning of a monumental movement to bring opportunities to women in industries which normally do not target them, the Abingdon Foundation is setting precedent for the helicopter industry to open its doors to females worldwide.
“The aviation industry is crying out for more pilots every day,” said Abingdon Mullin, president of the Abingdon Foundation. “Yet, companies continue to overwhelmingly focus on recruiting men to fill their jobs. There are women all over the world who — if exposed to helicopters as a viable career or hobby — might pursue the field. Why not give her a chance?”
“I am an active pilot with over 3,000 hours and have experience in over 80 different kinds of aircraft,” she said. “I have a passion for flying and I got it from a couple flight instructors who came to my high school to talk about flying when I was 14 years old. That’s how aviation was introduced to me.
“The mission of the Abingdon Foundation is to expose industries like aviation, helicopters, engineering, even horology to high school age and up at their schools, community events, and through sponsorships. Each year — from 2018 until I’m dead — the Abingdon Foundation will be bringing a woman to Heli-Expo to show her how incredible the helicopter industry is and to help her find out where she fits into this crazy rotor-world.”
Eleven years ago in 2007, Mullin founded The Abingdon Watch Co., a company which makes adventurous watches for adventurous women. In 2011, she started offering an annual scholarship to bring a woman to the Women in Aviation Conference, which she dedicated a portion of the proceeds from watch sales.
The growing interest in providing more scholarships and better outreach encouraged Mullin to expand to three annual sponsorships. Hence, the Abingdon Foundation was soft launched Nov. 3, 2017, the 1o-year anniversary of The Abingdon Watch Co.
Gardel will be attending the conference as a guest of the Abingdon Foundation. She will be introduced to key figures of the industry, attend seminars, and encouraged to explore areas of the helicopter industry she is not familiar with in order to gain a better understanding of where she might want to pursue a career.
The application guidelines for the sponsorship encourage creativity. What differentiated Gardel from other applicants was her willingness to think outside the box. She submitted a video and offered to continue her application after the conference — something that had not yet been seen by The Abingdon Co. in prior years’ applicants. See abingdonfoundation.org for more information.