Who are the SLO 99s?Simply put, we are women who love to fly! We are student pilots, career pilots, pilots who fly for fun, owners, renters, instructors, and enthusiasts. We are a support network for new and learning pilots, providing encouragement along the way, excitement when goals are met, and scholarships to help with flight training.
The SLO 99s have been around since October 1, 1969, and are part of the larger Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots. Past members have become airline pilots, pilots in Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves, Civil Air Patrol members, and pilots for the SLO Sheriff’s department Search and Rescue. Many friendships have been forged through our activities, and great memories created! Over the years, members have come and gone, but the commitment to building each other up and sharing our love of aviation has never changed.
Whether you are interested in flying or already a pilot, please come and join us at a meeting. We would love to meet you, hear about where you are at in your flying journey, get to know you, and fly with you!
Who are the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Pilots?
On November 2, 1929, 26 women pilots gathered together at Curtiss Field in Long Island, New York, paving the way for what is now the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots. A small group friends had contacted the 117 women pilots in the United States in an attempt to form a club, and the 26 who showed up began to search for a name for their group. Amelia Earhart – who was to become the first president of the Ninety-Nines Club, later to become the Ninety-Nines, Inc. – suggested naming the group for the number of charter members. When all the replies came in, there were 99 members, and the name stuck!
According to an article written on the Ninety-Nines’ 30th anniversary, the “original purpose of the organization was to coordinate the interests and efforts of women in the aviation field” with the further purpose of assisting them “in any movement which will be of help to them in an aeronautical research, air racing events, acquisition of aerial experience, maintenance of an economic status in the aviation industry, administering through the air in times of emergency arising from fire, famine, flood and war, or any other interest that will be for their benefit and/or th
at of aviation in general.”
With this ambition and the support of the women gathered at that time, the Ninety-Nines went on to fly for the Civil Air Patrol, the Air Transport Auxiliary, the United States Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, and the Woman’s Airforce Service Pilots, in just the first 15 years of their existence. Since then, the accomplishments of Ninety-Nines and women in aviation in general have continued to mount. It is with pride that, since the early days of the organization, the Ninety-Nines have provided scholarships to further training for women pilots; supporting each other and pushing each other towards aviation goals has been a core value of the women in the organization since its inception.
Post World War II, many of the Ninety-Nines “elected to dedicate their lives to families and the community. They tried to dispel the warlike aspects of aviation and promote the benefits to mankind brought by wings.” By broadening their enthusiasm to include air racing and recreational aviation, the Ninety-Nines paved the way for more women to fly for fun, rather than just for war support or for a job. It is in this spirit that we host our gatherings and flyouts; simply to enjoy each other’s company and to share in the joy of flight.
As the Ninety-Nines approach their 100-year anniversary, we as women pilots cannot help but be grateful to the women who came before us, inspiring us and making our paths easier. We hope to do the same for the female
pilots that come after us, and by doing so, share in the Ninety-Nines legacy.
Note: all quotations come from “The Ninety-Nines from 1929 to 1959; Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of THE NINETY-NINES, INC. 1929-1959.”
If you would like to find out more about the Ninety-Nines in the early days, this is a great read!