Submitted by Cathy Prudhomme, International Secretary
Of the more than 9,000 pilots in the United States in 1929, only 117 of them were women. That November, the 117 U.S. women pilots were invited to assemble at Curtiss Field in Valley Stream, Long Island, New York to provide “mutual support, advance aviation, and maintain historical records on women in aviation.” Louise Thaden, the winner of the first woman’s Air Derby, was elected Secretary and worked to keep the group together. In 1931 Amelia Earhart was elected the first President, and the organization was named The Ninety-Nines to represent its ninety-nine charter members.
November 2, 2019 marks the 90th anniversary of that first meeting at Curtiss Field. Now, more than 6,000 members strong, The Ninety-Nines has spread its wings around the globe, with 156 chapters in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, and the Middle East. Every Ninety-Nine is a pilot or student pilot, and members represent all facets of aviation – commercial pilots, flight instructors, military pilots, helicopter pilots, balloon pilots, acrobatic pilots, astronauts, and for the fun-of-it pilots.
In fulfillment of its mission to honor the history of women in aviation, The Ninety-Nines owns two museums – the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison, Kansas and the Museum of Women Pilots located in The Ninety-Nines Headquarters Building at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. Each year, the Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship Fund awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to members who are pursuing advanced ratings, completing their initial training, or conducting academic research in an aviation field.
All female pilots, student pilots, and aspiring pilots are welcome to attend a local Chapter meeting, a regional Section meeting, or any Ninety-Nines event. The Ninety-Nines website, http://www.ninety-nines.org, is a great resource for information, including how to find a local chapter.
To learn more about or join the Orange county chapter of the 99s, visit oc99s.sws99s.org