The 41st Annual proficiency air rally is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 17th at Sundance Airport in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Chapter of the International Organization of Women Pilots, The Ninety-Nines, brings pilots together for the Derby, testing their aviation skills and raising money for the Wings of the Future Scholarship, which has garnered over $75,000 since its inception. The Derby resides at Sundance Airport for the sixth consecutive year and its unique characteristics bring spectators from near and far to witness the action.
On rally day, pilots will take off at Sundance Airport, having been provided a predetermined course to fly. That course entails a route beginning at Sundance Airport in west Oklahoma City, and encompasses C.E. Page, Duncan and Watonga before heading back to the finish at Sundance.
Each entry predicts their fuel usage during flight and elapsed time to fly the course before they depart. The pilots are furnished with live GPS trackers from US Fleet Tracking, back as a sponsor of the Derby again this year. The company’s GPS tracking technology makes it possible for officials as well as spectators to view all participants during the rally, as it happens. The entrant who comes closest to their predictions wins the rally and walks away with a trophy, bragging rights and 50 gallons of aviation fuel sponsored by Sundance Airport.
The Wings of the Future Scholarship has helped women realize their dreams of flying by helping them get started in flying or assisting in furthering their aviation education. One of two scholarship winners for 2019, Katrina Hodges is honored to be awarded one of this year’s Wings of the Future scholarships. Her flying journey has seemed like a ‘wild ride’ with starts and setbacks along the way. It started with her father’s deployment when she would watch him put on his green flight suit as part of a flight crew and she vowed at age three to become a pilot. Life has had a way of ‘grounding’ her through various stages of life, but she never lets those struggles overcome her need to be in the air. Through years of AFJROTC and Young Eagles she continued to slowly focus her passion to where she is today and she could not be more grateful. Something she never thought she could accomplish is now within her grasp and she looks forward to soaring the high skies with the Ninety-Nines.
Gail Foote, 2019’s second scholarship winner, fell in love with flying when she was about 10 years old, having read a book about Amelia Earhart. “I wanted to be her”, she said. “I wanted to be a Ninety-Nine. I wanted to be in the airplane and shout ‘contact’. I wanted to see the earth from above. I wanted to be up there with the birds.” That seed, planted from the book about AE, took deep root, lying dormant for many years. Life, as they say, got in the way. But the seed began to sprout and these years later, Gail can now say “I am a Ninety-Nine!” She has a private pilot certificate, with an instrument rating. She also holds Advanced Ground Instructor and Instrument Ground Instructor ratings.
With the Wings of the Future Scholarship, she plans to pursue a commercial rating, as well as work towards a certified flight instructor rating. Many people have helped Gail along the way in pursuit of her flying dream. She wishes to “pay it forward” and share her love of aviation, in honor of those people who have left indelible wing prints in her life.
The Ninety-Nines, Inc. is the international organization of women pilots, a non-profit entity founded in 1929 by Amelia Earhart and 98 other women. Spanning the globe and currently boasting some 5,000 active members, its goals are to advance aviation through scholarships, education and mutual support while honoring the unique history of women in aviation. The organization owns and operates two museums; the Museum of Women Pilots at its Oklahoma City headquarters and the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison, Kan. More info can be found at ninety-nines.org.
The Oklahoma Chapter of The Ninety-Nines, one of 150 chapters, has 60 members and is home to the organization’s international headquarters in Oklahoma City.