By Pat Prentiss, Past President of the Ninety-Nines

Most of us know the scholarship fund exists, but not too many of us know its history. So, I thought I would share a few tidbits with you.

For several years following Amelia Earhart’s last flight from Lae, New Guinea on July 3, 1937, the Ninety-Nines were considering what could be the most suitable form their memorial could take to best perpetuate the ideals of their first national president.

Daisy Kirkpatrick, president at that time, appointed an Amelia Earhart Memorial Committee, headed by Ruth Nichols. The committee was to receive and evaluate from the Ninety-Nines such a memorial. Numerous excellent suggestions came forth such as memorial beacons, airports, statues and races, etc., all were considered and rejected because of geographical, financial or other limitations.

Because of Amelia’s own career in aviation, her enthusiasm and unselfish devotion to the advancement of opportuni-ties for all women in the field of aviation, a scholarship fund for this purpose emerged as the ideal memorial. A new winner would be selected each year, and since she was setting her course for an aeronautical career, the resulting contribution to the advancement of aviation in general was almost limitless.

As then set, an annual scholarship award of $125 for obtaining an instrument rating would be paid out of the income of the Fund to be raised by the chapters, sections and members. It would be a constantly growing, living memorial. Contributions were made by direct donation, filling penny books, sponsoring air meets, dinner dances, sale of articles and much more.

Said an early member “this is the most significant and ambitious united effort the 99s have undertaken.” It was felt that the announcement of the scholarship winner would create public interest in showing the value of a 99s

membership, the present status of women in aviation, and the admiration the members felt toward the career of Amelia Earhart.

In July 1941 the first winner was announced at the Annual Meeting of the 99s in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Patricia Thomas Gladney was awarded $125 which she used toward getting her Instrument rating. Today, on an average, 20-25 scholarships are given yearly ranging from an instrument rating to a Boeing 737 type rating.

Established in 1940 to help deserving members to further accomplishments, the Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship Fund now exceeds $4 million and provides; Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarships, Research Scholar Grants, and New Pilot Awards. Having helped over 400 women from six countries to advance and succeed in aviation and aerospace, the Fund has established itself as a marvelous legacy to the women who had the foresight to create the Fund in 1940, as well as the dedication of those who continued building it in the years since.


This year, 2012, in Providence, Rhode, Island, 21 scholarships were awarded. They are listed as follows:

1 Amelia Earhart Research Scholarship Grant

3 New Pilot Awards

5 Instrument Ratings (both airplane and helicopter)

1 Commercial Rating

2 Multi-Engine

1 Multi-Engine Instructor

2 Seaplane Ratings

1 King Air 300/350 Type Rating

1 A320 Type Rating

4 Academics including Master Aero Science, BS Helicopter Flight, BS Air Traffic Management, BS Aeronautics, and Back Country/Mountain Flying.

I think that’s pretty awesome! So you see, since 1941, our scholarship program has come a long way. Kudos to The Ninety-Nines, Inc.

For more information about scholarships offered by the Ninety-Nines, go to ninety-nines.org




Pat Prentiss, Past President of the Nniety-Nines

About the Author

Chicago, Illinois

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