The first class of women Naval aviators, the highest ranking African-American woman pilot in the U.S. armed forces, and a trailblazer in humanitarian and missionary flying have been selected as the 2017 inductees into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame.
"Honoring these women and chronicling their achievements is an important mission for Women in Aviation International,” said WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. "Not only have these women had great individual accomplishments but they have paved the way for other women to have similar success.”
In January 1973, eight female trainees were selected to train as naval aviators. They reported to Pensacola, Florida, for flight training in May 1973. Two women were dropped from the program, but the other six went on to earn their “Wings of Gold” becoming the first women to be designated full-fledged military pilots. The members of the first class of women Naval aviators are Judith Neuffer, Barbara Allen, Jane Skiles, Ana Marie Scott, Joellen Drag, and Rosemary Merims. Their success opened the door for subsequent female naval aviators.
Lt. General Stayce Harris is the highest ranking African-American woman military pilot in all the U.S. Armed Forces. She is the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director, Air Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. Harris also serves as Deputy Chairman of the Air Force Council, and is the Air Force accreditation official for the international Corps of Air Attachés. She has logged more than 2,500 hours in military aircraft including the C-130H, KC-135R, C-141B/C, T-38, and T-37.
The late Elizabeth “Betty” Everts Greene was a trailblazer in humanitarian and missionary flying. Greene learned to fly in 1936, served as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II, and went on to help found the Mission Aviation Fellowship that today operates 135 aircraft in 33 countries, flying five million nautical miles a year to provide medical care and disaster relief, and participate in community development.
The Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame was established 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.