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Young Aviators

Female pilot organization
promotes aviation education

Amelia Earhart was first
president of Ninety-Nines Inc.

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 2011) – Since she was 17, Terri Donner has been a member of the Kentucky Bluegrass Chapter of the Ninety-Nines Inc. For the last 34 years, she has enjoyed her career in aviation to the fullest extent and is part of a local event that teaches and supports aviation enthusiasts about airplanes and hot air balloons.
Donner is a UPS pilot. The Kentucky Bluegrass Chapter to which she belongs is a chartered chapter of the Ninety-Nines Inc., an International Organization of Women Pilots. Amelia Earhart was the first president of the Ninety-Nines Inc. Donner, 51, joined the chapter “for the camaraderie with other women pilots,” she said. When she was 21, she won a scholarship through the organization. Members can apply for scholarships, grants and awards, which will benefit women, students and licensed pilots in search of new skills and training.
As a local fundraiser for its scholarship programs, the Ninety-Nines Inc. will be sponsoring Aerospace Day at Bowman Field in Louisville on Saturday, March 5. Two sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event is geared toward Girl Scouts, but the public is also welcome. Cost is $10 per person.
This is the eighth year for Aerospace Day, said Donner, who came up with the idea for this aviation-themed event. “I wanted to use the event as an outreach program for the Girl Scouts.”
The scouts can earn their Junior Aerospace Badges by visiting eight different stations at Bowman Field. “All presenters are women who are qualified professionals in their career,” Donner said. Participants can tour the control tower, climb aboard a real airplane and meet military and balloon pilots and aircraft mechanics.
Stations will include topics such as Women Airline Pilots, the History of Aviation, Hot Air Balloons, How to Get a Flight Instructors License and information about a career with NASA.
“I had originally wanted to do an aviation camp,” said Donner, who lives in Jefferson County, Ky. Her idea evolved into Aerospace Day, an event she said she enjoys participating in very much.
Donners’ friend, Terri Sanders, was her connection to the Girl Scouts to get the organization involved. Scouts “come from all over the state to this,” said Sanders. The scouts “must research the different parts of flying, careers, etc.”
Bowman Field was chosen as the site to have this event because “it is a general aviation airport and also very historic,” Sanders said.
Established in 1920, Bowman Field is one of the longest, continuously operating, general aviation airports in the United States. The site is on 426 acres and as of January 2011, 223 T-hangers were for lease on the field.
The 1920s were a time of growth for the airport. Airline service to Louisville began on Aug. 1, 1928, when Continental Airways began airmail service between Louisville and Cleveland. By 1929, construction had commenced on the first permanent buildings at Bowman Field: Curtiss Flying Service, the Administration Building and the Air Corps Hangars.
During the 1937 flood, the field remained dry and thousands of tons of supplies and medicine were flown in for local relief efforts. During World War II, Bowman Field was the busiest airport in the country, with thousands of members of the military calling it a temporary home while undergoing combat readiness training.
Bowman Field also became home to the U.S. Army Air Force School of flight surgeons, flight nurses and medical technicians. In 1941 during wartime, work began on the Standiford Field commercial airport. In 1947, all Louisville airline operations moved from Bowman Field to Standiford Field.
Bowman Field then assumed a new role as Louisville’s primary general-aviation airfield. It now serves as a reliever airport for Louisville International and offers the following services: flight instruction, aircraft leases, charters and sales, aircraft cleaning and refueling, and aircraft repair and maintenance.
Donner has been a flight instructor at Bowman Field and said she loves being a member of the Ninety-Nines Inc., “because it gives me an excuse to get together with other women pilots every month from Kentucky and southern Indiana.”
The local chapter meets the second Saturday of every month and members range in age “from 18 to 90,” Donner said.

• For more information on Aerospace Day, contact Terri Sanders at (502) 222-0646 or (502) 435-4853. Registration is required and space is limited.

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