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WAI names 2015 Pioneer Hall of Fame inductees

Four women who have earned places of honor in the history of aviation will be inducted into Women in Aviation International’s Pioneer Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the organization’s twenty-sixth annual conference March 7 in Dallas, Texas.

Recognizing the inductees as "women who changed aviation history" will be a highlight of the conference, which will run from March 5 to 7 with the theme, "Connect, Engage, Inspire," WAI said in an announcement.

Transporting cancer patients

Priscilla (Pat) Blum, one of the founders of the Corporate Angel Network, will be inducted into the Pioneer Hall of Fame. Corporate Angel Network, based in White Plains, New York, is a 34-year-old not-for-profit organization that pursues a mission to arrange free travel for cancer patients to and from their treatment centers in available seats aboard corporate jet aircraft.

In 1982, the organization’s first full year of operations, "a dozen corporations flew a total of 23 cancer patient flights," WAI said. "In 2014, 560 corporations signed on as CAN providers and an average of 220 cancer patients were flown each month for an annual total of 2,550." The organization expects to reach the milestone of 47,000 patients transported next month.

First female commercial pilot

Inductee Phoebe Omlie (1902–1975) was one of the nation’s best known women pilots, having been the first woman to earn a commercial pilot certificate. She went on to became a successful air racer, trained to become a stunt pilot in a JN-4D, with her future husband, Vernon; and served as a presidential aviation advisor—the first woman appointed to a federal position in aeronautics.

Des Moines, Iowa, native Omlie is remembered as a dazzling performer who "danced the Charleston on the top wing, hung by her teeth below the airplane, and performed parachute stunts in the Phoebe Fairgrave Flying Circus," WAI said.

'Untiring volunteers'

The work of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) is a treasured chapter in aviation history, and WAI will recognize the efforts of a mother-and-daughter team who tell the story "through books, recordings, museum exhibits and an app."

The team consists of Deanie and Nancy Parrish, who also strive to ensure that members of WASP stay in contact with each other. "They are also responsible for initiating the movement to honor the WASP with the Congressional Gold Medal. Many generations of historians, researchers and other women will benefit from their efforts," WAI said.

"These women and their accomplishments deserve to be recognized so that our members can thank those who came before them and initiated new undertakings or preserved the role of women’s contributions throughout aviation history," said Dr. Peggy Chabrian, president of the nonprofit, West Alexandria, Ohio-headquartered WAI.

WAI established the Pioneer Hall of Fame in 1992 "to honor women who have made significant contributions as record setters, pioneers, or innovators. Special consideration is given to individuals or groups who have helped other women be successful in aviation or opened doors of opportunity for other women. Each year, the organization solicits nominations from throughout the aviation industry for the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame."

The induction ceremony and the awarding of numerous scholarships will take place at the annual conference’s concluding banquet on March 7 at Dallas’s Hilton Anatole.

Secure online conference registration is available here. Special rates for students and military service members are available. WAI also offers an "Accompanied Child" rate. Onsite registration will be available as well.

AOPA ePublishing staff
AOPA ePublishing Staff editors are experienced pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners who have a passion for bringing you the latest news and AOPA announcements.
Topics: Aviation Industry, People, Women in Aviation International

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