Women have come a long way in the aviation world since Marvel Crosson became the first female to earn a pilot’s license in Alaska 85 years ago.
But advocating for women in the aviation industry remains crucial — and Ariel Talen-Keller is leading the campaign.
“It’s really important that we keep women involved in aviation,” Talen-Keller said.
To spread her message, the Peters Creek woman started competing in beauty pageants. Talen-Keller, 30, holds the title of Mrs. Alaska U.S. All World Beauties 2012 and is currently competing in the All World Beauties National Pageant in Orlando, Fla., from June 12-17.
Talen-Keller’s platform, GirlsFlyToo, is a foundation she started to educate and encourage women of all ages to be involved in aviation. She has four national sponsors, and Talen-Keller plans to provide scholarships to girls interested in flying in the future.
Speaking about her platform and outreach is Talen-Keller’s favorite aspect of beauty pageants.
“That’s really your time to shine,” she said.
And Talen-Keller has no shortage of community service to talk about.
She serves as a peer mentor at both the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center and Covenant House Alaska, and she works with the Girl Scouts of Alaska, Boys & Girls Club and the Alaska Aviation Museum.
Talen-Keller also spoke at the 23rd annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Dallas, Texas, in March.
“It’s been a heck of a year,” she said.
Both of Talen-Keller’s parents are pilots.
“Aviation has always played a huge role in my life,” she said.
Talen-Keller, who earned her master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said women can excel at any position in the aviation field, from fighter pilot to an air traffic controller. That’s what her platform is all about.
“I’m just trying to keep women excited about flying or any other part of the aviation industry,” she said.
Talen-Keller started competing in pageants in her early 20s. She said she wants to use her title as a way to serve as a role model for young girls.
Prior to the national pageant, Talen-Keller said was prepared for a good showing.
“I feel like I will be a strong competitor,” she said. “I’m ready.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org