The Ninety-Nines has revealed the names of its 2015 award recipients, including Pat McCollum, who received the President’s Award.
McCollum began contributing to The Ninety-Nines the day after she got her pilot’s license in 1998. She is skilled in graphic design, trade show management, advertising and corporate communications.
When her section was assigned to host the 2010 Annual Conference in Hawaii, Pat created brochures and other artwork for the event. To pay for the deposits needed for the conference, she produced a “Governor’s Tea” and invited the whole Section. She designed and printed invitations, got sponsors, commandeered a maintenance hangar and decorated it, made 50 baskets for a Silent Auction, and held a contest for the best-themed tea table.
She produced a PowerPoint presentation designed to increase member retention, created PowerPoint presentations for International Fund-Raising Chair, Susan Liebeler’s Fundraising Seminars and specifically the “Raise the Roof” drive which garnered more than $65,000 for repairs to the Museum and Headquarters building.
The Award of Achievement for Humanitarian Efforts was presented to Heather Sterzick. This award recognizes significant contributions, through aviation, in a humanitarian effort.
Sterzick joined The Ninety-Nines in June 2012 when she was awarded the Wings of the Future Scholarship by the Oklahoma Chapter. Inspired by fellow chapter members, she became an active member volunteering at events and raising scholarship funding.
She also serves as director of Discover Aviation & Airshow Spectacular (a local airshow that raises funds for flight training scholarships), is a FAASTeam representative, began a flight school, serves as the local 99s Chapter Chairman, and has chaired the chapter’s Okie Derby, a proficiency rally.
A veteran of the US Army, serving as an Air Traffic Controller, she has worked as a controller at Wiley Post Airport. A graduate of Embry-Riddle and a certificated auditor, she is currently a corporate pilot.
The Award of Achievement for Contributions to The Ninety-Nines was presented to Joan Kerwin. The award recognizes a significant contribution to the mission of the 99s or any of the organization’s activities.
Kerwin believes that belonging to an organization comes with a responsibility to serve. She has contributed to The 99s almost as soon as she joined in 1970.
For the past 44 years, she has worked quietly in the background, never seeking praise or accolades. She rolls up her sleeves and gets busy taking care of business, contributing her time and energy to all levels of the organization. She is a constant ambassador for The 99s, making a point of travelling the world to promote the organization at her own expense. In addition to attending Section meetings across the U.S., she has been to New Zealand, Australia, China, Northern Ireland, Russia and Kazakhstan with the intent of spreading the word about The 99s and bringing the continents together.
Joan has used her flight certificates in a variety of community events from fundraising to convincing the Chicago Board of Education that through orientation flights there was value in placing the study of aviation in public schools. In recognition for her contributions to aviation, she was inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame in 2002.
The Award of Achievement for Contributions to Aviation was presented to Petra Illig. The award recognizes significant contributions to any facet of aviation.
Illig has become the “go to” Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) for pilots with medical issues, having given countless presentations and written numerous articles on aviation medicine to and for doctors and the pilot community on local, nation and international levels.
Illig received her Private Pilot license a month before she graduated from medical school in 1981, subsequently becoming an FAA certified AME. She was hired by Delta Air Lines in 1998 as the company flight surgeon, working with pilots to get their medicals back and developed their in-flight passenger medical emergency response procedures, still in place today. In 2001 she moved back to Alaska to serve the local pilot community. In 2007, the U.S. Center of Disease Control (CDC) recruited her to lead the Aviation Team in its division of Global Migration and Quarantine. In this capacity she has been a liaison with the aviation industry and international aviation regulatory agencies.
She is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medicine Association as well as the Civil Aviation Medical Association; she sits on the executive board of the latter organization. She serves as the Secretary of the Aviation Medical Director’s Association. She has been an adjunct professor in the University of Alaska, teaching aviation physiology in their Aviation Technology Division. She is a founder of the Space Medicine Association, a company that promotes health and safety for pilots and passengers in the upcoming commercial human spaceflight industry. These organizations promote safety in aviation, and are particularly important in ensuring pilot health while satisfying regulatory requirements for aeromedical certification.
The George Palmer Putnam Award was presented to Jerry Hunter. This award recognizes the support provided to The Ninety-Nines by an individual or an organization.
Having struggled to afford flight lessons himself at the age of 20, Hunter now offers his support to a variety of aviation organizations in the State of Oklahoma including the Oklahoma Chapter of The 99s. He not only provides financial support, but also promotes The 99s to the Sundance Flight Academy students based at his airport, many subsequently joining The 99s.
Since “discovering” The 99s in 2012, the year he acquired Sundance Airpark (KHSD) in Oklahoma City, he has offered his resources to fulfill the mission of The 99s. A self-taught electronics and software engineer, Jerry built his business, US Fleet Tracking, on a GPS tracking device that now provides live vehicle tracking in over 150 countries.
His airport has hosted the Okie Air Derby and his donations to the Wings of the Future Scholarship have ensured that the chapter has been able to fund significant scholarships.
The Award of Inspiration was presented to Alia Twal. This award is presented to an individual or organization whose participation, achievements, or activities have had a significant impact on The Ninety-Nines, the world aviation community, or the art and science of aviation or aerospace.
Twal, member of the Arabian Section 99s and the current Section Governor, is this year’s recipient for the inspiration she provides through her dedication to aviation and The 99s.
“My aviation dream started when I was in a high school and we had a career day. I joined the aviation class, and the way the captain was standing and talking about aviation, I knew immediately that I belonged to that world. I knew that I wanted to be standing in his shoes one day and giving other people a chance to know about aviation,” Alia said. “The happiest day in my life was when I obtained my PPL,” she adds. After earning her commercial instrument rating, she obtained her CFI and then passed the DLR exam for Royal Jordanian Airlines.
“I thought I didn’t have a chance of being a pilot due to my gender. I was surprised to know at age 16 that in Jordan we had female pilots since the 1970s. And there it all started. So, going with my own motto since I was a child (Whatever you want to be, be a good one!) I graduated from school with the second highest mark in Jordan.”
Alia now flies the Airbus 320 family for Royal Jordanian Airlines.
In 2010 she was contacted by the then governor of the Arabian section, Yvonne Trueman, and subsequently introduced to The 99s. At the time there were around 18 members in the Arabian Section. Happy to join an organization for female pilots and receive a welcome from so many members from around the world, she fell in love with The Ninety Nines and became an active member. Becoming Governor in 2012, Alia promised herself to make a difference. And now the Arabian Section has 78 members from different cultures.