Letter: Students flying high
The Aspen chapter of the Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots has been presenting guest speakers, organizing airmarking and spot-landing contests at the Aspen airport plus “poker runs” to other airports around Colorado and hosting our annual Pilots’ Holiday Party since Betty Pfister first started our chapter in 1982. Betty had been a member of the international organization since the 1940s after flying during World War II with the Women Airforce Service Pilots. After moving to Aspen in the 1950s, she became Aspen’s “first lady of aviation,” with many accomplishments, including having the runway at the Aspen airport paved, getting the Federal Aviation Administration to build a control tower and installing the helipad at Aspen Valley Hospital (which was the first in the state), plus many more amazing achievements too numerous to mention here.
Now, thanks to Greg Roark, Aspen Middle School and Aspen High School have added aviation classes to their curriculum, and in the past few years “Mr. R” has taken many students through the private-pilot ground school, with some even advancing to instrument training. We didn’t have anything like that when we were in school!
Thanks to the generosity of our Aspen Ninety-Nines members and supporters, we have decided to honor Betty’s memory and encourage these young, talented and very bright students with the first Betty Pfister Memorial Scholarship to help a young woman currently enrolled in the Aspen AERO class follow her dream. We were very impressed with all the applicants’ intelligence, enthusiasm and passion about flying. Their essays were all excellent, and we fell in love with each one during our individual interviews. It was a very difficult decision for us to make, resulting in us adding a second-place award. We wish we could have awarded all of them!
We are happy to announce that the first prize of $500, to be used toward the completion of her flight training, will be awarded to Katarina Kowar, currently in grade 10. And ninth-grader Alex Coleman will receive the $300 second-place prize. We hope this small token will help them on their way to a wonderful future in aviation, whether it be a career or avocation. We encourage those who did not “win” this year to reapply next year for what we hope will become an annual scholarship. The whole Aspen community should be proud of our very bright students, as we are, especially the young women studying in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
We invite all the applicants plus the entire Aspen aviation community to our next annual Holiday Pilots’ Party, to be held sometime in early December. We will be publicizing it in the newspapers and also with posters around the valley. If you would like to be added to our email list, please send your info to email@example.com. And we hope that through your generous support we can make this an annual scholarship.
Thank you, and happy landings.
Polly Ross and Kim Bracher
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Two Rivers Unitarian-Universalist Church, in conjunction with the Roaring Fork Valley’s Interfaith Council and Sanctuary Unidos, is showing a Zoom presentation of the documentary “Welcome Strangers” at 10 a.m. Sunday.