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The Ninety-Nines expand the world by getting women into flight

On Sunday afternoon the Ninety-Nines made their annual trip to Port Clinton for their monthly All Ohio Chapter meeting. Edna Hansen of Port Clinton, Peg Ballou of Bucyrus, Kay Johnson of Grove City, Kathy Samuelson of Columbus, Sue Lemaitre of Fremont, Roberta Jones of Columbus and Middle Bass Island, Margaret Hazlett of Mansfield and Chris Creamer of Ashland were all in attendance at the September meeting at Liberty Aviation Museum. A few of the women from the Columbus area “plane-pooled” to attend.

The formation of the Ninety-Nines in 1929 paved the way for women in flight. Ballou said that the first female pilot to fly a commercial airliner with a male pilot was told to “sit down, shut up and don’t touch anything.” Women in aviation have come a long way since then. 

Amelia Earhart was the first president of the Ninety-Nines. Out of the 117 licensed women pilots at the time of the group’s formation, 99 of them became members, thus the name “the Ninety-Nines”. The Ninety-Nines are an open membership, non-profit organization. Their mission statement: “The Ninety-Nines are an international organization of women pilots that promotes advancement of aviation through education, scholarships and mutual support while honoring our unique history and sharing our passion for flight.” They have awarded 496 scholarships since 1941. Members of the organization span over 35 countries and there are thousands of members throughout the world.

The oldest member of the All Ohio Chapter is Joan Mace, the first female department head for the aviation school at Ohio University. As the women shared stories on Sunday, Roberta Jones, who grew up on Middle Bass Island, said that she used to race her bike down to the runway every morning to watch the Ford Tri-Motor land to deliver mail. Watching the Ford Tri-Motor soar everyday inspired Jones herself to take flight. 

To learn more or to join the group, visit www.ninety-nines.org.

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