By Gates L. Scott
".... As a commercial helicopter pilot, I get my fair share of hangar flying. I meet some interesting characters who eagerly take time away from whatever they are doing to tell me about the hours they have logged in their Otter or the intricacies of their engine overhaul. I mean, I thought that women liked to talk incessantly, but these men have the gift of gab on the tarmac. Not until I became a pilot myself, did I understand that men are from Mars and women are still grounded on this very Earth.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and visit with a number of female aviators who, quite honestly, I was glad to chat with for an hour. After speaking with this group of women, who range from a student pilot to an F-16 pilot and Major in the Air Force, I must say that they are nothing of a minority. They are the elite. They love what they do. They are passionate, and I absolutely respect the careers that each has developed in a challenging industry. They are, simply put, the cream of the crop in our small aviation world. Now, the more time I spend with fellow male pilots talking turbo-chargers and crosswind landings, the less interested in their stories I become.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, of the almost 700,000 active pilots in the United States, less than 6 percent are women. Slightly more than 2 percent are ATP rated. Furthermore, women account for only 2.13 percent of the more than 540,000 non-pilot aviation jobs in the country. There is no denying, by these numbers, that we work in a male-dominated industry.
However, since Harriet Quimby became the first female to earn her private license in 1911, women have had a significant impact on the history and development of aviation. Dating back to 1910, when Blanche Scott commandeered a plane that unexpectedly took flight while taxiing, women have cemented their participation in the discipline. In November 1929, at Curtis Field on Long Island, 117 American female pilots gathered to mutually support advancement in aviation. During that gathering, the 99’s were born. Today, with more than 5,500 female members from 35-plus countries, the 99’s are one of the most influential organizations of licensed pilots. Due to their efforts, and other organizations like Aviation for Women, even the U.S. Air Force now boasts that 20 percent of its pilots and staff are women...."Pilot Magazine - Women In Aviation