On November 2, 1929, twenty-six licensed women pilots gathered together at Curtiss Field, Valley Stream, Long Island, New York, to discuss the formation of a club "to promote women pilots among themselves, and to encourage other women to fly, as well as to break down general opposition to aviation."  After that first meeting, letters were sent out to the 117 licensed women pilots in the United States, giving all of them the opportunity to become charter members in the new club. The name of the club was to be determined by the number of women who wished to join. When 99 letters were returned by the approved date, the name became The Ninety-Nines. Many famous female pilots of the time, including Amelia Earhart, Ruth Elder, Viola Gentry, Phoebe Omlie, and Louise Thaden were charter members.
In the succeeding years, the Ninety-Nines have ably fulfilled the purpose set forth in the original letter. Many aviation records have been set by members of the Ninety-Nines. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the Atlantic and in 1936 Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes won the Bendix Trophy Race. Since 1941, the organization has granted a variety of scholarships and grants to members who are seeking advanced training in specialized branches of aviation. Today, the Ninety-Nines, Inc. has grown to include 6500 members in 35 countries.
1Clara Trenckmann to Mr. Skinner and Mr. Mellen, October 1, 1929. "September 1, 1929 - September 1, 1930," Folder 1, Box 1, Ninety-Nines Inc., History Books Collection (Acc.XXXX-0470). Archives Division, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. [back]