We are a group of forty-some women, all certificated pilots or student pilots. Named for the northern Rio Grande, a river which flows through our section of the country, our members hail from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Angel Fire, Los Alamos, Tesuque, Pagosa Springs, the Jemez Mountains, Jackson (Tennessee) and other far-flung locales.
The Rio Grande Norte chapter includes a permanent trustee of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship Fund and a past 99s International President. When formed in 2003, we boasted members originally from Germany, Switzerland and France. Two charter chapter members lived a rancher’s life in rural New Mexico, one in the far southwest bootheel and the other near the (now reviving) ghost town of Watrous.
Before the age of interstate travel, when popping into the neighbor’s ranch for a cup of tea involved more than a stroll next door, small aircraft eased the isolation of such locales. Although both those charter members have moved on to New Horizons, the chapter now welcomes a 100-year-old member pilot whose logbook reflects the signature of Jimmy Doolittle.
For one member, the opportunity to begin flight training arose as a swap for advertising time at the local radio station where she worked. Two others learned to fly as grandmas!
One of our chapter’s CFIs (flight instructors) started her aviation career working behind the Delta Airlines ticket counter. One member flew an open-cockpit gyroplane from Connecticut to New Mexico, and two others are helicopter pilots.
Rio Grande Norte chapter members range widely in careers and interests, including a nurse, elementary school teachers, a high school chemistry teacher, two librarians, two journalists, author of the airline industry standards for female pilots experiencing pregnancy and motherhood, several administrators, an accountant, an aeronautical engineer, a flight instructor, an aspiring professional pilot, scientists who study materials and climate change, a real estate agent and small business owners.
Our ages range over at least 5 decades! What we all have in common are three things: we are women, we are pilots, and we LOVE TO FLY!
Although our significant others, known casually as “forty-nine and a halves” in recognition of their partnership in our lives, are not officially members of the Ninety-Nines organization, they are always welcome at our activities and are as much a part of our chapter family as any of our regular members.