In 2010 Mireille Goyer, an airline pilot and aviation educator launched an initiative to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first female pilot license. Today, Women in Aviation Week has become a worldwide observance in 52 countries on five continents, complete with organized activities and first-time flight experiences for many girls.
In addition to this annual event, the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) was also established. A non-profit based in Canada, it promotes alliances with industry professionals and enthusiasts-more than 10,000! -and nearly 600 organizations in the aviation industry.
While we often look back at the brave women who first took flight, here are just a few of the accomplishments by women in the United States in the 21st century.
In 2000 Betty Mullis became the first female pilot in the U.S. Air Force to become a Brigadier General and was promoted to major-general in 2002. During her service with the Air Force, she received the Legion of Merit and Air Force Distinguished Service Medal. When she first joined the Arkansas Air National Guard, she was one of the first women there to earn her pilot’s license. She was also the first woman to take command of a flying squadron and became the first woman in the Air Force Reserve to do so. Now retired, she is a civilian airline pilot.
In 2003 Sidonie Bosin (helicopter pilot) was recognized as one of the to aviators of all time by the First Flight Centennial Commission’s 100 Heroes. Bosin was recognized for being the first female aviation officer in charge of aircrews deployed to the Coast Guard cutter Polar Sea in the Antarctic, including one of an all-female flight crew.
Naval aviator Vernice Armour, became the first African American combat pilot in 2003 to fly in the Iraq War. She flew the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2005, Jeanine Menze became the first African American woman to earn the Coast Guard Aviation Badge in the U.S. Coast Guard. As the first Black female in aviator history in the U.S. Coast Guard, she was assigned to fly HC-130 Hercules aircraft and flew rescue missions following Hurricane Katrina. Today, Menze holds the rank of commander.
Heather Bartlett became the only woman in 2008 working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as both a pilot and law enforcement officer.
Kimberly Anyadike was just 15 in 2009 when she became the youngest African-American woman to complete a transcontinental flight from California to Virginia in a single-engine Cessna 172. Accompanied by a safety pilot and a retired Air Force pilot, she completed the journey in 13 days. The Tuskegee Airmen awarded her the first Young Aviator’s Award in recognition of her achievements in 2016.
Curious how the top aviation companies in our country celebrate Women in Aviation Week? Check out the following links.
Boeing: Celebrating women’s history and progress in aerospace
Women in Engineering Day: three engineers leading the way toward safer aviation | Airbus
Women defining the aerospace industry of today – and the future | Airbus