Women in flight--you’ve come a long way

The Ninety-Nines was ahead of its time. Formed in 1929 by 99 female pilots, the organization today represents all aspects of aviation. Club members are professional commercial pilots, fly for the military, own their own planes, and just fly for fun.

The group has grown tremendously over the years, with the sole mission of encouraging women that they can be their own pilot. The group is headquartered in Oklahoma City and has become recognized as the place for resource materials on women in aviation and aerospace.

AMELIA.jpgAmelia Earhart, an endorser of Switlik safety products, was the first president of the group from 1929-1933. Earhart’s husband, George Putnam, formed a partnership with Switlik in 1934 and created the first parachute jump tower. Like so many trailblazing things, Earhart was one of the first tojump from the tower.

Like the first jump, she knew the Ninety-Nines needed to leap into action and show the power of women in aviation. “Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” Earhart was quoted as saying.

Women have come a long way when it comes to aviation and piloting. In 1960, only one in 21,417 women held an “other-than-student” pilot certificate. By  1980, the ratio had become one in 4,224 -- which according to Mireille Goyer, founder of Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week and iWOAW President, that was the best representation of female pilots within the general population ever.

The number of female for-hire pilots has increased 3,000 per decade since the 1970s. However, according to Goyer, the growth in female pilots versus males has been at a standstill since the 1980s, clearly still illustrating the dominance of men in aviation.

Organizations like Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide  (IWOAW)and the Ninety-Nines, an international group of women pilots, promotes the advancement of aviation through education and scholarships, safety and with a bit of fun.

“Through the organization, we offer support while honoring our unique history and our passion for flying,” noted one of the members of the Ninety-Nines.

Yet these organizations understand there are still barriers for women when it comes to piloting and flying. By creating forums for advocacy, sharing their stories and taking leadership roles in aviation, the Ninety-Nines and IWOAW have all helped open up avenues to women in aviation many never thought possible before.

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IWOAW hosts an annual conference to promote, celebrate and encourage female pilots. The conference is in its 8th year and will be held March 5-11, 2018 with the theme “Speed Demons: 65 Years of Supersonic Women.”

According to Goyer, the annual conference is just one way to show the power and influence of women and aviation. She notes that the event is a great way where “together we can show girls and women how welcoming to women the aviation industry really is and how eager we are to include them. “

She said these are exciting times for female pilots, but the work is never done. “We’ve got to continue to celebrate, promote and encourage women in this field,” noted one member of the Ninety-Nines.

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