Aspen icon Betty Pfister dies
Ryan Summerlin November 18, 2011
ASPEN – Longtime resident Betty Pfister, 90, passed away peacefully at her home on Nov. 17, 2011.
The New York native was perhaps best-known for her pursuits in aviation. Most notably, she earned the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010 for her role in the Women Airforce Service Pilots. They were the first women to fly military aircraft for the United States. Surviving WASP members gathered at the U.S. Capitol for the honor.
She also owned and flew a single-seat P-39 fighter plane after the war, and was a Pan Am stewardess for a time.
Pfister learned to fly helicopters, competed as a helicopter pilot and was instrumental in developing a heliport at Aspen Valley Hospital. She also pushed the Federal Aviation Administration to provide a control tower at the Aspen airport and founded the Pitkin County Air Rescue Group, an organization of local pilots who would search for downed planes and lost skiers in the surrounding mountains.
She was also the founder and first member of the Aspen chapter of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots, and was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame in 1984.
Pfister married a pilot, as well; she met Art Pfister in the lift line at Aspen Mountain, and they married in 1954. He attended flight school after World War II began, was a flight instructor and flew C-46 planes from India to China, delivering gasoline. Art’s varied postwar career included time on the Aspen Skiing Co. board of directors and helping develop Buttermilk. He died in 2007.
The Pfisters were among Aspen’s old guard, and for years, the couple hosted the Aspen Old Timers party, an event Betty first organized, along with Margaret Albouy.
A full obituary from the family will follow.