March 2, 2010
By Julie Summers Walker
The most senior ranking woman in the history of the United States Coast Guard told the nearly 1,200 attendees at the closing banquet of the International Women in Aviation conference that they could have their dreams—and then share them with others. Be a “force multiplier,” Vice Admiral Vivien Crea told the diverse audience of military, corporate, and commercial pilots, aircraft mechanics, flight attendants, writers, journalists, and engineers—men and women alike.
Crea was one of five inductees into the WAI International Pioneer Hall of Fame announced at the twenty-first annual convention’s closing banquet. Attendance at the convention reached nearly 3,000 women and men, an all-time high for the convention, and included double the number of international attendees from 20 different countries and awarded the second highest number of scholarships in the WAI history.
In addition to Crea, inducted into the Hall of Fame were Trish Beckman, the first woman to qualify as a crewmember in the F-15E program; Suzanna Darcy-Henneman, chief training pilot for The Boeing Company; Alice du Pont Mills, who received her pilot’s license in 1929 when she was 18 years old; and Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space.
WAI awarded $678,300 in scholarships to a diverse group of recipients from university students to mature members seeking a mid-career change to aviation. Many attended the banquet to accept their scholarship. They were touted as the “rock stars of the future.” At the convention, the WAI silent auction raised $18,315 for WAI’s Endowment Fund, which funds scholarships and educational programs. The total in the endowment is now more than $650,000.
Keynote speakers at the convention included AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart, who challenged WAI attendees to “engage” in aviation. She was joined in that challenge by NBAA President Ed Bolen, EAA Vice President Elissa Lines, and GAMA President Pete Bunce. FAA Administrator J. Randolph Babbit said the conference was “the most marvelous mentoring center I think I’ve ever seen.” He joined WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian in a renewed memo of understanding between WAI and the FAA.
“Awesome and always inspirational,” Crea summed up the convention and banquet. The twenty-second annual convention will convene in Reno, Nev., in February 2011.
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
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