Team Edwards and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center gathered March 19 for the 2013 Women’s History Month Luncheon held at Club Muroc’s Alliance Ballroom. This year’s luncheon focused on women inspiring innovation through imagination in science, technology, math and engineering.
Guest speaker, Lt. Col. Kathryn G. Hughes, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander, spoke to attendees about true aviation pioneers Katherine and Marjorie Stinson.
At the age of 21, Katherine earned her pilot’s license in 1912 and was†the first woman certified to carry mail by air. She also became the first female to execute a loop and fly at night. While she volunteered to fly during World War I, she was turned down twice because of her gender.
Inspired by her younger sister, Marjorie earned her pilot’s license in 1914 and later became one of the founding members of the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots in 1929.
During the luncheon, Hughes also talked about her own trailblazing experience as the Air Force’s only female in the Pilot-Physician Program. She is a command pilot and senior flight surgeon with over 3,300 hours and has flown in the T-38, RC-135, A-10 and the Royal Air Force Hawk. She has logged more than 200 flight surgeon hours.
As commander of the 412th AMDS, Hughes is responsible for the health and safety of 10 flying squadrons, 171 industrial shops and 54 food facilities.
It is the efforts of women like Katherine and Marjorie, who were so far ahead of their time, that have paved the way and opened the doors of opportunity to women like Hughes and Chief Master Sgt. Christine Beaudion, 412th Maintenance Group Weapons Standardization Section superintendent, who became the Air Force’s first female weapons chief in 2012.
While today, gender would not prohibit Beaudion or Hughes from pursuing their goals and dreams, they continue in the rich heritage of accomplishing “firsts” and pushing the envelope for those who come next – setting examples that the Stinson sisters would be proud of.