Thousands of girls experienced the joy of flying at the Abbotsford International Airport this weekend at an annual event aimed at inspiring girls to pursue aviation careers.

The event began five years ago when a female pilot, Kirsten Brazier, founded, The Sky's No Limit, Girls Fly Too!

In Canada, only 5.5 per cent of professional pilots are women, Brazier said, adding the statistics are similar for technical positions in the military and on ships.

The Abbotsford event, which took place Saturday and Sunday, is aimed at changing those figures. It offers free flights to girls and women who are first-time flyers.

Caroline Bizotto

Caroline Bizotto, shown on board a plane at Abbotsford International Airport, says she wants to be a pilot. (CBC)

Eleven-year-old Caroline Bizzotto was impressed.

"I think it would be pretty cool flying something," said Bizotto, as she checked out a search and rescue Buffalo aircraft. "I want to be a pilot."

However, Brazier said the low percentage of women in aviation has not improved in recent years.

"In my 24 years of flying I've often been the only female pilot for thousands of miles, and in the first 15 years I could count on one hand the number of female airline mechanics," she said.

Canada's new Defence Minister Harjeet Sajjan was at the event with his daughter.

"It's not the nice thing to do, it's the right thing to do," Sajjan said. "We're missing out on opportunities."

With files from Deborah Goble