Feb 06, 2013 at 02:39 PM

Pilots Dedicate Garden, Celebrate History Museum of Flight Display Honors Women Fliers

By Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation

Pilots dedicate garden, celebrate history

Joan Paynter of the Bakersfield Chapter of the Ninety Nines photographs a mural that was unveiled Saturday during the Southwest Section meeting and dedication of the Ninety Nines Memorial Garden at the Santa Maria Museum of Flight.

One hundred years of women’s aviation history was celebrated Saturday at the Santa Maria Museum of Flight as the Ninety-Nines Memorial Garden was dedicated.

The Santa Maria Valley chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots, hosted its Southwest Section meeting this weekend.

It’s the fourth time the Santa Maria Valley has hosted the sectional meeting and the first time since 2007. The Southwest Section includes pilots from California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Utah.

The garden and an exhibit inside the museum honoring World War II WASPs (Women Air Service Pilots) were the center of attention Saturday for the more than 100 women pilots who attended.

Dedication of the garden completed a two-year effort by the Santa Maria Valley Ninety-Nines. The garden features memorial bricks and benches dedicated to friends of aviation.

The focal point of the garden is a mural and storyboards depicting the pioneers of women’s aviation history from Harriet Quimby, the first licensed woman pilot in America, to the women who flew on the space shuttle.

Former astronaut Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, who now leads 14th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base, spoke during the dedication ceremony Saturday. Helms was the first U.S. military woman in space.

Santa Maria Valley Ninety-Nines vice chair and renowned artist Sunni Gibbons spearheaded the mural project.

Posted in WW II.