Women's History Month: 99s Fly-In

  • Published
  • By John Murphy
  • Air Force Test Center

March 2022 represents the 35th iteration of National Women’s History Month. Women have made their mark in every major career field and occupation on earth, aviation included.  Let’s take a look into one of the most unique organizations you will ever hear about.  They are called the “Ninety-Nines”.  On January 20, 2007, 23 privately owned aircraft landed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as members of the Ventura County chapter of the Ninety-Nines performed a fly-in to the Air Force Test Center.  The event was hosted by the base flight safety office as part of the civilian aviator awareness program.  

On November 2, 1929, at Curtiss Field, Valley Stream, Long Island, New York, the famed and noted aviatrix Amelia Earhart founded the Ninety-Nines.  Of the 117 licensed women pilots of the day, 99 became charter members of the organization and took the name from their number.  The membership was international from the beginning and Earhart was elected the first president.  Thousands of licensed women pilots from over 40 countries have joined the Ninety-Nines.  Membership includes: Life Members, Emeritus Members, Ninety-Nines and Student Pilot Members.

The Ninety-Nines are an international organization of licensed women pilots from 44 countries, totaling thousands of members throughout the world.  Their organization is a non-profit, charitable membership corporation holding 501(c)(3) U.S. tax status.  The Ninety-Nines International Headquarters is located in a two-story building complex on six acres at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  That building also serves as the home to numerous archival records, videos, oral histories, personal artifacts, collections and memorabilia, and biographical files on thousands of women pilots from around the world.  This is not the only female pilot organization in existence, however virtually all women possessing aerial achievements are members of the Ninety-Nines.

As of February 28, 2022, the Ninety-Nines are employed as professional airlines pilots for industry and government; tutor up and coming pilots who wish to fly for pleasure; who are pilots, technicians and mechanics.  First and foremost, they are women who love to fly.  The Ninety-Nines’ mission statement is simply, “The Ninety-Nines is the International Organization of Women Pilots that promotes advancement of aviation through education, scholarships and mutual support while honoring our unique history.”

The Ninety-Nines continue to conduct a variety of annual activities.  Some of these include the sponsorship by local chapters hundreds of educational programs, including aerospace workshops for teachers, airport tours for school children, fear-of-flying clinics for airline passengers, and flight instructor revalidation seminars.  For many years, the Ninety-Nines have co-sponsored more than 75percent of the Federal Aviation Authority pilot safety programs in the United States.  Members have worked with the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s student flying competitions since 1948 as judges, runners, and teachers, as well as with funding assistance.  More recently, the Ninety-Nines became sponsors for the Girl Scouts of America offering Aviation Day programs.