Travel Bargain destination in Oklahoma
99s MUSEUM OF WOMEN PILOTS
Women in Aviation in Oklahoma City
Earhart was born in Kansas, learned to fly in California, and disappeared
in the South Pacific,
so where is there an Amelia Earhart
Road in Oklahoma? The state’s tie to the formative days of aviation
is more tied to home state boy Will Rogers and his pilot pal Wiley Post.
It is Will Rogers whose statue stands in from the freshly renovated Will
Rogers World Airport of Oklahoma City which now bears his name, but in
the land of the cowboy it is Amelia Earhart and women in aviation who
are celebrated just off the boulevard leading from the airport named
for the most famous American aviatrix.
The 99s Museum of Woman Pilots is located on the second floor of the
headquarters offices of the Ninety-Nines, on the grounds of the airport
in a small business park within earshot of the landing and departing
jet flights. The Ninety-Nines, an association of women pilots was formed
in 1929, with Amelia Earhart as its first official president in 1931.
The association was born out of the 1929 Women’s Air Derby nicknamed
the “Powder Puff Derby” a competition of women pilots flying
cross country from Santa Monica, California to the Cleveland Air Races,
at the height of the era of the Bendix Prize and the Thompson Trophy.
Amelia Earhart termed the air race opportunity, "A chance to play
the game as men play it, by rules established for participants as flyers,
not as women."
The first all-women’s air race was won by Louise Thaden, with Earhart
arriving third. Following the completion several of the flyers felt the
need for a more official bond of camaraderie in the men’s world
of flight, so Amelia Earhart, Gladys O'Donnell, Ruth Nichols, Blanche
Noyes, Phoebe Omlie and Louise Thaden gathered under the grandstands
at Cleveland Airfield to discuss the idea of forming an organization
for women pilots. They decided any woman holding a pilot’s license
should be able to join and sent out the word. In November of 1929, twenty-six
of a total of eighty-six invited women aviators gathered at Curtis-Wright
Field in New York and formed the organization. A number of names were
suggested – the Gadflies, the Climbing Vines, Homing Pigeons,
and even the Noisy Birdwomen, but Amelia Earhart and Jean Davis Hoyt
on taking the name from the total number of charter members, the Eighty-Sixes
at first, but then the Ninety-Sevens, and finally stopping at the Ninety-Nines.
The organization's purpose would be good fellowship, employment opportunities,
and maintaining files on women in aviation. The organization found
its current home in Oklahoma City in 1999.
At the Ninety-Nines Museum of Women Pilots, the visitor can explore
the story of the organization and the history of women in aviation
earliest days of flight up to the present. The core draw of the museum
is the collection of Amelia Earhart artifacts belonging to the most
famous of the woman flyers, including a pair of her leather goggles,
and the lucky bracelet which she tellingly left behind before departing
on her mysterious last flight and other memorabilia. But the museum
is much more than all Amelia, featuring exhibits about the important
women pilots played in the development of aviation, with an archive
of personal papers of the flyer members, photographs, scrapbooks, and
artifacts that chronicle the rich history of hundreds of women aviators
from the days of bi-plane to outer space. Exhibits cover the WASPs,
organization of Women Air Force Service Pilots, the Air Transport Auxiliary
War II, when it was women who ferried aircraft to the European war
theater, today’s women combat pilots and astronauts. An audio-visual
collection features the voice and scenes of women pilots talking about
and their life in aviation. A flight simulator and hands-on activities
gives kids a chance to explore in the “Learn To Fly” section.
Visiting the Ninety-Nines Museum of Women Pilots
museum located at 4300 Amelia Earhart Lane, just off the Meridian
main road to the Will Rogers World Airport. The museum is open during
business hours of the association headquarters, 10am to 4 pm Monday
through Friday, closed on Weekends and Holidays. Admission is $5
$4 Seniors and Military with ID, and $3 for Students, children under
4 are free. It is possible to walk to the museum from the airport
terminal, but a bit too far for a quick stop, requiring a healthy hike.
is free parking. © Bargain
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