The woman’s pilot organization was founded by Amelia Earhart and 99 other women on November 2, 1929. It was started because of the possible sabotage during the Powder Puff Derby. The women felt they needed an organization to promote women in aviation. The group was started two months after the stock market crash and after the Powder Puff Derby. Even with these two events the 99’s were started.
Amelia became the 99’s first president and helped develop it so that the group is still in existence today. They are located all over the world assisting women in aviation just like Amelia and the other women did so long ago.
In 1929 the 99’s wanted to assist women fly without consideration of their sex. It was said that women pilots should be appreciated for their skill not their gender.
“The original purpose of the organization was to
coordinate the interests and efforts of women in the
aviation field. It proposed to assist them in any movement which will be of help to them in aeronautical research, air racing events, acquisition of aerial experience, maintenance pf am economic status in the aviation industry, administering through the air in times of emergency arise from fire, famine, flood and war or any other interest that will be for their benefit and/or that of aviation in general.” (the ninety nines Glance Backward by Kay Memges Brick 10/28/01)
One of the main activities of the 99’s is a program called Air Marking. This program was started by the Works Progress Administration in 1933. The women would paint roofs of barns or tall buildings to help pilots identify the name of the town. The airport would supply the paint and the members of the 99’s would do the painting.
This is an odd story..when World War 11 broke out the signs had to be blocked for security purposes. After the war the women of the 99’s repainted the signs again. The government ran out of money so the chapters had to, contribute the paint and the hand work. It was a very difficult job because the signs were as 50 feet high.
There was a challenge naming the group so they settled on a name that stood for the 99 charter members of the group. Today this organization has over 5,000 members from 36 different countries. The 99’s have scholarships available for women that want to learn to fly.
Today the chapters offer many different programs including, aerospace education for teachers, airport tours for school groups, aviation talks to service clubs, co-pilot courses for apprehensive light plane passengers, fear-òf-flying clinics for airline passengers.
It’s amazing that from the beginnings of The 99’s to present day the group does so much for the general public. People in need can count on The 99’s to help people who need transportation for cancer appointments, and transport blood for the Red Cross. They even fly donated supplies from the United States to Mexico and other countries that need food and medical supplies.
The beginnings were a very informal group that had most of their an activities around the Womens Air Derby because women were not allowed to participate in races until the Derby. The 99’s strived for women to be able to compete equally with male pilots.
In my next post I will tell the story of the problems of women pilots during the Derby. I will also tell how The 99’s helped improve the rules for women pilots in races.