Friday, March 4, 2011

All female pilot group encourages women to take to the sky

KTRE ABC Ch 9: All female pilot group encourages women to take to the sky
(This story is from Feb 12, 2011)

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In 1929 men told them they could never be pilots.

With the help of pioneers like Amelia Earhart, women from around the world formed their own group- the Ninety-Nines, Inc. Their mission is to mentor other female pilots. They hope high flying inspires more women to take to the sky.

Elizabeth Frankowski is a retired architect. Linda Street- Ely is a paralegal for an engineering firm. They share a special bond. Both are licensed pilots.

"I love to do cool tricks in the sky, the flips, the loops," said Street-Ely.

And both are members of the Houston Ninety-Nines Chapter.

"We hope that our organization can be a part of mentoring and supporting those women who are interested in pursuing aviation careers and pilot careers," said Frankowski, Chapter Chairman.

Their goal is to provide scholarships to other women pilots. Street-Ely received one for aerobatic training. She participates in the annual air race classic.

"That is a four day air race across the country, women only," she explained.

In 1929 this race was for men only.

"The men wouldn't allow the women to participate so at that time 20 chick pilots got together and said we'll have our own air race and we'll land in Cleveland," said Street-Ely.

The times have changed, as there are a number of growing opportunities for women in aviation.

"More and more women are becoming pilots, flying for the military and our armed services and this was all because of some of the pioneering women like Amelia Earhart, and the WASPs during World War II that have paved the way," said Frankowski.

Still, they say there is a need for more female pilots.

"There are about 598,000 U.S. licensed pilots and six percent of that is women," said Street-Ely. "Women seem intimidated maybe like well I can't do that. Well yeah you can. I'm a grandmother of five. I can do it."

They say all it takes is confidence and the willingness to learn.

The Houston Chapter consists of about 56 members. Saturday, they ended their annual treasure hunt at the Angelina County Airport, after a five stop competition that began in Liberty. The big prize was a free flight in a B-17 bomber plane.

Following the treasure hunt, the East Texas Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association hosted lunch and gave free plane rides to kids to educate them about aviation.

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