Paris attracts the best - this year's airshow sees several of the world's top female pilots flying in the display. Patty Wagstaff and Catherine Maunury are here, as are two members of French display team the Winglets.

That makes four out of around 50 pilots flying in the show, or 8%, which is not a bad statistic when you consider that worldwide fewer than 0.6% of female pilots make it to the top of the professional tree.

Take a wander round the exhibits and you find women who love flying and have set up companies that enable them to do so.

Irene Carrion got her licence in 1993. She started flying because it enabled her to extend her passion for motorbikes and ride them in the air. This led to her forming her own company, Aquilair (recreational and leisure area).

"For me flying is instinctive," she says. "I like the fact that I'm moving in three dimensions."

There are several associations worldwide that encourage women to fly, including the Ninety-nines in America and the Federation of European Women Pilots.

Wagstaff believes the US armed forces are actively recruiting female pilots. However, the women often have a tough time convincing their male peers that they are good enough to do the job.

Both Carrion and Wagstaff believe this is countered by being excellent. Says Carrion: "In the beginning it was a little difficult and the men would look at you strangely. But once you've proved that you can fly the aircraft they forget about your gender."

Wagstaff has earned respect from pilots worldwide and rarely encounters sexism in her travels, but when she does, she has the best retort: "Ultimately it's your flying skills that are important and - as far as gender goes - the aircraft doesn't know the difference."

Winglet wonders

Source: Flight Daily News