Ladies Aviators International Meeting
7th Flydonna Edition
FlyDonna is an international outreach event which has been running since its founding year 2008, by the driving force of Donatella Ricci. ‘Flydonna’ is designed to raise awareness of aviation opportunities available to girls/ladies of all ages, to promote women as an important asset and economic force beneficial for air and space industry, to foster gender equality and inclusion in communities and working environments.
Attending this Flydonna edition are World record aviators and pioneers in their specialties: nearly astronaut, pilot Donatella Ricci, Esa astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, pilots WeFly!Team, pilots with disabilities. The two-day-event hosted in Italy in lively ambience of flight club Papere Vagabonde Caposile airfield near Venice, is the result of Donatella’s intent to create a space for international networking among past, present and future ladies professionals in aviation and aerospace industry. The location is a fully accessible airstrip nearby one the fifty-three enchanting Unesco World Heritage sites in Italy.
By profession Donatella Ricci is Leonardo helicopter division program manager. She is also author, speaker and pilot of hot-air balloon, helicopter, lightweight aircrafts which include Magni gyroplane, designed and manufactured in Italy. Standard gyroplanes usually fly at altitudes around 12.000ft/3.658m, yet as of November 2015 Donatella is the new Gyroplane World Altitude Record holder with 27.556 ft/8.399 m, improving the record previously established by American pilot Andrew Keech in 2004.
Donatella’s non-fiction book “World Record for a Gyroplane“, emblazoned with Samantha Cristoforetti’s foreword, recounts her daring adventure with practical advises for other pilots’ benefit. As speaker and flight trainer, Donatella conveys the beauty of flying and a sense of belonging to a world where there could be no boundaries.
Guest Of Honor Samantha Cristoforetti
For Flydonna special edition, guest of honor is Italian Air Force Captain Esa Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. With her stunning imagery and views, vivid memories of her record 200-day-mission in space living and working aboard the International Space Station, Cristoforetti makes everyone relive her extraordinary experience, shares the importance of cultivating universal values and perspectives.
Italian Armed Forces ladies pilot officers, parachuters and two generations of ladies pilot and aviation professionals, have come from all over Europe to celebrate her life-long achievements.
Special Participant Guests WeFly!Team
WeFly!Team is the only aerobatic flying team in the world composed by two pilots with disabilities in a team of three, Alessandro Paleri and Marco Cherubini. With their aerospace engineering abilities they customize the planes they fly in order to pilot by use of hands. Trainer, Papere Vagabonde’s President Erich Kustatscher, prestigious life-long carrier in aviation and pioneer of ultra lightweight flight in Italy, pilot of ultralight planes and helicopters. Official PR Pino Di Feo journalist of Askanews_Italy, and photographer Marco Tricarico. On the ground and in the air, they convey a sense of passion, energy and incredible abilities.
WeFly!Team advocates for Baroni Rotti (Broken Barons), the first flight school for disabled pilots in Italy. The message of inclusion and for all to fulfill their dreams, reached out internationally with Dare To Fly initiative and a special ceremony was held to celebrate the return of the flag that Cristoforetti flew to space. Whether disabled or not, we all have forms of impairment; cultivating the notion that everyone has different speed and capabilities can be beneficial towards more considerate environments.
More than 400 ladies pilots with fascinating backgrounds and stories partecipated at this edition. Among the many remarkable guests, Fiorenza De Bernardi, who in 1967 became one the first airline female pilots in Italy, and throughout her life did so much to promote women’s equality and inclusion in working environments. Her legacy still lives on to these days.