Cassandra Bosco: Trailblazing Industry Leader

Photo above – Over her 35+-year career, Cassandra Bosco has experienced many opportunities to enjoy the spirit of flight. Here Cassandra flies in the Goodyear Blimp relishing the view from the right seat. (Courtesy photograph).  

by Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D.  

Harken back to the late 1980s when Cheers (Where everybody knows your name) and The Golden Girls ruled the TV screen. Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones, was again on the big screen and Cassandra Bosco joins the aviation industry. Over the years, she cultivated skills and knowledge in association management, advocacy, media relations, public relations, event planning, industry representation, educational program development, and publications reaching leaders and practitioners in virtually every facet of the aviation and aerospace industry.

Cassandra Bosco

She became an effective and passionate industry advocate – helping to craft, and participate in, the dialog concerning the benefits, opportunities and challenges associated with powered flight. Here is Cassandra’s story.

What’s your first memory of aviation?

I had just graduated college and was visiting friends on Long Island. One of them took me on a flight in his general aviation airplane. He flew me over my family home in Connecticut and tipped his wing at my house. We were so close I could even see my dog’s little house! It was thrilling.

How did you first get inspired to work in the aviation industry?

My first job in aviation came years after that first flight. I answered an ad for a communications position with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, where I met and got to work with The Honorable Ed Stimpson and his team. It was fascinating to watch the manufacturers develop new technologies. Part of my job was to manage national press misconceptions about GA flying, which was, of course, challenging and still is. GAMA also had use of a Bonanza at the time, and we used it to fly to meetings across the country, so we experienced first-hand the benefits of being able to get to smaller communities with general aviation aircraft. Flying over New York City in the late 1980s in the Bonanza and seeing a Concorde about to land is a sight I will never forget.

After five years at GAMA, I went on to do communications for the National Business Aviation Association. In addition to communications, I was able to pursue my passion for education by creating NBAA’s aviation education program – AvKids. At last, my love of communications, aviation and education was all rolled into my current responsibilities. While at NBAA, I had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects including the creation of their No Plane. No Gain. campaign, volunteering at the Cessna Citation Special Olympics Airlift, creating a business aviation exhibit – Business Wings — at the National Air and Space Museum and celebrating the 100th Anniversary of flight with a trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia where our team got to pore over (with gloved hands, of course), the Wright Brothers’ original documents. Talk about touching history!

In addition to communications, it has been my mission, throughout my career, to encourage others (especially women and underrepresented communities) to embrace a career in aviation.

After an amazing 17 years at NBAA, I left the nest and founded TailWinds Communications, a communications and workforce development consultancy. At TailWinds, I get to work with many of the industry’s best and brightest to help them tackle their challenges and opportunities.

Bosco has made a lifetime commitment of encouraging aviation careers. These Young Professionals were photographed at the 2020 WAI Networking Event. Cassandra enjoys working with our future aviation leaders. She is shown far right in the first row, next to last. (Courtesy WAI)

What do you consider to be the highlights of your career?

I have been blessed to have witnessed and/or participated in a wide range of activities that have allowed me to experience, first-hand, the many ways in which powered flight has shaped our world. I have flown the Goodyear Blimp at the launch of Wingfoot 3. I created a Corporate Aviation “Business Wings” exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. I have greeted Special Olympics athletes at the Citation Special Olympics Airlift. I shared in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Flight at a special Wright Memorial Dinner. I got to tour one of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliners at a picture-perfect open-air Collier Dinner held at DCA’s Signature Hangar that had been transformed into a dreamy cloud. Last year. I worked with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to create a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Leadership for Women in Aerospace and Aviation that attracted more than 2,200 attendees! But perhaps my greatest thrills have come from greeting and meeting a number of industry icons and influencers, including Reeve Lindbergh, Eileen Collins, Gen. Chuck Yeager, Members of the WASPs and Tuskeegee Airmen, Wright Brothers and Collier Award winners, and countless other inspirational men and women who have defined or chronicled the history of aviation.

Who has inspired you the most?

I have had the opportunity to collaborate with and be mentored by industry giants such as Ed Stimpson (founder and president of GAMA), Stan Green (co-founder of GAMA), Dave Franson (Allied Signal, NBAA, Bombardier), Henry Ogrodzinski (EAA, GAMA, Gulfstream, NASAO) and Phil Woodruff (FAA AvEd). It would be impossible to list everyone who has inspired me and/or helped to influence the path I’ve been able to take, but I’d also like to give a “shout out” to Ed Bolen (GAMA), Shelly Simi (iBiz), Kerry Lynch (AIN), and so many others like them who serve in the front lines of this industry, which touches virtually every person on the planet. This industry is filled with professionals whose passion motivates us all to move forward.

Cassandra Bosco introduced her daughter, Christina, to aviation career opportunities at the first WAI Bring You Daughter to the Conference Day. This annual event eventually became WAI Girls in Aviation Day. In this photograph (L-R) Christina Bosco, General Jeannie Leavitt (first woman USAF fighter pilot-1993), and Cassandra Bosco pause during a busy WAI event. (Courtesy photograph)  

In 1990, I was approached by Dr. Peggy Chabrian to become a Founding Board Member of Women in Aviation. The Founding Board, an inspiring group of women and men, remain lifelong friends, while WAI itself has grown to be an industry lifeline and network for more than 13,000 members from all industry sectors throughout the world. It has also created opportunities for young women from all walks of life to become part of the aviation community through its mentoring and scholarship programs, that latter which has provided more than $15.4 million in financial support to help them pursue their dreams.

Any Advice for other women inside our industry or thinking about aviation and aerospace?

This is a vibrant and dynamic industry that is built on expanding the influence of powered flight to every corner of the world. You will meet smart, passionate, and innovative people who will inspire you to not only become the best person you can be but, also, to pay it forward to others. I strongly encourage you to grow your network at every opportunity and not only seek out those who will mentor you but develop the ability to mentor others. It’s a lifelong mission.

The opportunities in aviation are boundless and, for many, limited only by their imagination and vision. We currently need so many young men and women to become our future leaders and provide the “muscle” to support the industry. No matter what you aspire to do, you can do it in aviation – business management, pilot, aviation maintenance, ATC, photography, writing, etc. All you need to do is attend an event, reach out to anyone in aviation (we love to talk about what we do and why we do it), go online and join an outreach group such as Women in Aviation, Grand Dames of Aviation, National Gay Pilots Association, NBAA, EAA, NASAO, etc. There is no better time to get your career in aviation started than right now. Come join us!

Author Note: Former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, our first female African American to hold that office, said, “Whatever you choose to do, you have one other obligation, and this is to yourself. Do it with passion.” Cassandra Bosco has found the passion.