Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day
Vol.8 Issue 9
Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day filled the auditorium to capacity at Tulsa Tech’s Riverside Campus

For the sixth year, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) hosted the Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace (OKWIAA) Day event at Tulsa’s Riverside Airport on December 9th. Several employees from the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center attended the symposium and learned more about the impact that women have had on Oklahoma’s aviation industry.

Among many important speakers who were brought in for the occasion, Bessie Coleman’s great-niece, Gigi Coleman, dressed in vintage aviator attire, spoke to a crowd of over 800 individuals, and received recognition from Oklahoma’s Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell. Bessie Coleman was the first African American and person of Native American decent to get her pilot’s license and fly.

Oklahoma’s Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell (R) gives official recognition to Gigi Coleman (L) for continuing the legacy of her great aunt, Bessie Coleman
Aeronautical Center Director Michelle Coppedge moderates a panel discussion with two American Airlines pilots. Pictured L-R: Wing-walker Ashley Shelton, MMAC Director Michelle Coppedge, American Airlines pilots Capt. Beth Powell and Capt. Deborah Hecker
(L-R) American Airlines pilots Capt. Deborah Hecker and Capt. Beth Powell with MMAC Director Michelle Coppedge

As part of the program, MMAC Director Michelle Coppedge interviewed two American Airlines pilots, Capt. Deborah Hecker and Capt. Beth Powell, providing inspiration to women of all ages. Prior to the start of the event, a preliminary activity hosting a professional panel of aviation-related women filled the auditorium to standing room capacity, where six top-aviation and aerospace industry leaders discussed their climbs to "cruising altitude" in their respective careers. Panel leaders included:

  • Col. Robin M. Cavanaugh, Vice Commander, 138th Fighter Wing, Oklahoma Air National Guard
  • Dr. Brenda Rolls, Frontier Electronics, Stillwater
  • Rebecca Pettenski, Project Manager at L3 Harris
  • Lt. Col. Jaclyn McCormick, Tinker Air Force Base
  • Kathryn Plunkett, Production Supervisor, Engine & APU, American Airlines,
  • Robin Hadfield, President, Ninety-Nines International
  • Celebrity Moderator: Capt. SueAnn Alexander, Delta Airlines, Tulsa
(Pictured L-R) Rebecca Pettenski, Project Manager at L3 Harris; Kathryn Plunkett, Production Supervisor, Engine & APU, American Airlines; Lt. Col Jaclyn McCormick, Tinker Air Force Base; Dr. Brenda Rolls, Frontier Electronics, Stillwater; Col. Robin M. Cavanaugh, Vice Commander 138th Fighter Wing, Oklahoma National Guard; Robin Hadfield, President Ninety-Nines International
Pictured L-R: Rashida Wesley, Debbie Uglean, Vicki Craig, Sheree VanNoy, Pam Graham, Jamie Loving and Christine Huckleberry

Supervisory Aviation Technical Systems Specialist, Rashida Wesley (AJW-1522) was in attendance, and has always been interested in airplanes. She and her father would drive to the airport in Little Rock, AR just to watch them take off. She never thought she’d work in the aviation industry, but since she was good in math and working with computers, her High School counselor recommended that she pursue engineering. Rashida states, "I love seeing the work I do on ground-based navigation equipment and how it affects the flying public." Her advice to young women who might be interested in aviation is, "Do not be afraid to pursue it [aviation]. Yes, it is a lot of math and science, but if I can do it, so can they. Another thing I would recommend is read, read, and read! Even if it is a math course, read the reasoning or theory behind the ’why’."

Another Aeronautical Center employee, Christine Huckleberry, Hardware Engineering Manager of the En Route Surveillance Team (AJW-1421) was delighted to see so many young people in attendance. "I was impressed by the informative and inspirational panel that was led by Director Coppedge, and how the dialogue gave great insight to the success that women in our field can achieve," said Huckleberry. Christine’s advice to young women who may be thinking about college is, "It’s all about striking a balance between your strengths and your passions, while keeping practicality in mind."

Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day began back in 2017 when the Aeronautics Commission presented a bill to the Oklahoma legislature, and it was enacted into law, to officially recognize annually the contribution of Oklahoma women in the State’s aviation and aerospace industry, on December 9th. The date marks the birth of the famous female Chickasaw aviator, Pearl Carter Scott, of Marlow, Oklahoma. Scott learned to fly at the age of 13 under legendary aviator Wiley Post. She became the youngest pilot in the United States, having her first solo flight on September 12, 1929 (the same year that Amelia Earhart established the international female pilot group, the Ninety-Nines).

Pictured L-R: Marilyn Landoll, Barbara King, Teresa Thomas, Michelle Landolt, Kelly Petty, Monique Walswick, and Delinda Fitzgerald
Over 800 people attended the Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day in the Tulsa Tech hangar

The 2022 Oklahoma Women in Aviation & Aerospace Day event honored the legacy of women pioneers in our industry, celebrating the success of women contributing to the industry today, and served as a catalyst to inspire the next generation of aviation enthusiasts.

The sold out event of 800 people included 250+ students, and an array of professionals from all facets of aviation. The event’s success was due in large part to the collaboration of industry partners at Spirit AeroSystems, the event’s Presenting Sponsor and Tulsa Technology Center, the host sponsor. This celebration of women in aviation was led by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in partnership with the Oklahoma Airport Operators Association and the Ninety Nines.

The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission is the sponsor of the annual Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day. "Imagine That."
Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day – Get the Shirt!

The annual event continues to successfully grow each year. One of the items available to purchase from the event is an official t-shirt. Proceeds from the sales of these shirts go to flight scholarships and organizations across Oklahoma. Sales are open until January 31, 2023. To get a t-shirt please visit: OWIAAA T-Shirt Sales

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