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New Rating? Award? New-to-you Airplane? Tell us all about it!

Stephanie Wrenn


Congrats to the Air Queen of the Day, Stephanie Wrenn, who passed her Private Pilot checkride today at KBUY with the DPE Zenda Liess!!! They both are members of the Kitty Hawk chapter here in NC. Those of you who attended the SE Section meeting in Fort Myers a couple of weeks ago remember that young and beautiful blond lady. Happy flying to everyone!

Best regards,
Hanna-Mari Salo, CFI/CFII

Breaking Through The Clouds Documentary Wins Multiple Awards; Filmmaker Meets Harrison Ford & Aviation's Elite

Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby won the David Ponce Award for Best Documentary of the Festival at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio on October 13th, 2011.  The film won Best Documentary DMV at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza in Washington, D.C. on October 23rd, 2011.     In addition, Executive Producer Heather Taylor of Columbia, Maryland is the recipient of the prestigious Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF).   Presenting Taylor with a check for $20,000 at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 11th, 2011 was actor and pilot, Harrison Ford along with aviation's elite.BTTC2.jpgPictured left is Taylor accepting the award from NAHF President Phil Roberts; Air Show and Legendary Pilot Bob Hoover; Business Aviation Pioneer and Aerial Cinematographer Clay Lacy; Actor & Pilot Harrison Ford; Producer Heather Taylor; Show Legend Sean D. Tucker; FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt; Apollo XVII Astronaut (and last man to walk on the moon) Capt. Gene Cernan; and Thunderbird Pilot (ret) Gen. Lloyd "Fig" Newton.    Taylor said in her acceptance speech "I never imagined that following the dreams of twenty pioneering women in aviation's history would lead to my meeting the quintessential aviation legends of today" (speech available on youtube and Taylor's website).     Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby will be screening Sunday, October 30th at 4:30pm in Greenbelt, Maryland as part of the Utopia Film Festival:  (Photo with Harrison Ford courtesy of NBAA and
group shot photo is courtesy of Jeff Sykes/Pro Pilot Magazine)

Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby is the inspiring true story of 20 women who raced across America in 1929. With just a compass and a road map to guide them, Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Phoebe Omlie, Pancho Barnes and 16 additional brave female pilots defied convention by taking to the skies and racing across the country to prove that flying was a safe mode of transportation and show that women could indeed, fly.
Taylor, who has worked 13 years to bring the film to fruition said, "facing cultural stereotypes, mechanical failures, navigational challenges, threats of sabotage and endless chicken dinners, the women persevered and became pioneering legends in aviation. Their story is inspiring to anyone who has the courage to follow their own dreams."  
 Wearing breeches and goggles in the day and ball gowns in the evening, the pilots challenged stereotypes by proving women could be independent, competitive, self-sufficient, intelligent, competent, graceful and above all, really good pilots. This story has largely been ignored until now. The documentary Breaking Through The Clouds captures the women's personalities and portrays the drama of the race, stressing the importance the derbyBTTC1.jpg made for women, aviation and the country as a whole.

Expertly researched, beautifully shot and edited, and filled with never before seen footage from the actual derby, Breaking Through The Clouds is a character driven documentary showing the trials and tribulations the women endured as they took off in Santa Monica, California and raced towards the finish line in Cleveland, Ohio. Aerial recreations in vibrantly colored planes like the ones the women flew in the derby put the viewer in the pilot's seat.

Family members and friends of the pilots tell personal stories of the pilots throughout the film, adding an emotional edge to the film. National Aerobatic Champion PATTY WAGSTAFF,  aerobatic pilot JULIE CLARK, aviation historians, including Dorothy Cochrane, Curator of the National Air & Space Museum, round out the interviews giving perspective of the women's amazing accomplishment. In addition, legendary pilot ELINOR SMITH SULLIVAN, in her last on-camera interview, describes some of the women in the derby and what it was like to fly in 1929. BTTC3.jpg

Pat Thaden Webb, daughter of original racer Louise Thaden, said, "I'm so appreciative of how you portrayed my mother Louise Thaden's beautiful soul, and her determination and courage to be a great pilot, and what flying and flight meant to her. She, and the other 19 pilots who flew this first race, earned their right, and the right for all women, to be able to participate in the development of aviation. Your film is a real tribute to my mother and to the others, and I'm forever grateful that their forgotten story has come to the screen for all to see."

Additional awards for Breaking Through The Clouds include an Award of Excellence from The Indie Fest, a finalist for the competitive International Documentary Association (IDA) Award and the official selection of eleven film festivals to date.  Visit for a full listing as well as more information and additional testimonies.     
 Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby is available on DVD at       


Jessica Stearns - FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award 

Paradise Coast Ninety-Nines member Jessica Stearns has received the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in appreciation for dedicated service, technical expertise, professionalism, and many outstanding contributions that further the cause of aviation safety over 50 years of continuous flying. This award was presented to her at the SE Section Meeting of the Ninety-Nines in Ft. Myers, FL on Sat October 15th, 2011. Jessica.jpg


Jessica first flew on Aug 27th, 1956 at Philadelphia Int’l Airport, PA. This was the start of a lifelong dream. Her first solo was on Jan 6th 1957, and on Oct 27th, 1957 she received her CAA Private Pilot Certificate. Jessica hadn’t learned to drive yet.


On Jun 20th, 1960 Jessica entered the USAF Aviation Cadet Navigator program and on May 8th, 1961 was Commissioned a 2nd LT with an Aeronautical Rating of Navigator. Her first assignment was to Dover AFB, DE to fly the C-124 Globemaster on worldwide airlift missions. Jessica joined the base aero club to keep her pilot skills sharp. In 1963 she bought a Cessna 120 for her personal flying. In 1964 Jessica became interested in soaring so she soon added the glider rating. While on extended temporary duty at the Clark AB, PI Command Post, Jessica was promoted to Captain and notified of her acceptance to USAF Pilot Training at Craig AFB, AL.


On June 10th, 1966 Jessica reported to Craig for pilot training. There she flew the Cessna T-41, T-37, Northrop T-38, and of course her C-120. Upon graduation she checked out in the Lockheed C-141A Starlifter and was based at Warner Robins AFB, GA for the next year. Then I Oct of 1968 came orders for duty in Viet Nam.


Jessica was assigned to be a Forward Air Controller (FAC) flying the Cessna 02A Skymaster in support of the US Army. Training for this called for Fighter Indoctrination in an AT-33, POW & Winter Survival, Counter Insurgency/PSYOPS schools, airplane check out, FAC training, and on the way to SE Asia, Jungle Survival at Clark AB. Jessica reported to the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment in Apr, 1969 and flew in support of their operations until Sept, 1969. At this point she was appointed Chief of the standardization and Evaluation Unit for all FAC’s flying the 02A aircraft. During this tour of duty she logged over 600 combat hours flying 381 missions. In Apr, 1970 Jessica was reassigned to fly the C-141 at McGuire AFB, NJ.


At McGuire Jessica flew as an Aircraft Commander and upon promotion to Major on Nov 10th 1971 was assigned to the 438th Wing HQ. First in Aircrew Training, then as Director of Reserve Forces, and finally as Chief, Airfield Management. While at McGuire Jessica was selected to serve as a HQ USAF Presidential Advance Agent; a special duty assignment supporting the President’s travels.


Her last assignment was to the Pacific Region USAF Civil Air Patrol as Director of Training. In the assignment she flew a variety of light civil aircraft as a Liaison Officer in support of the CAP mission. On June 30th, 1980 Jessica was retired from active duty in the USAF. During her career she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross/ 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal / 11 OLC’s. AF Commendation Medal / 2 OLC’s, and numerous other awards.


99sesfall6.JPGShe began Civilian life as a Manager for Pacific Telephone, but flew on weekends as a CFI, Charter and aerial survey Pilot. Meanwhile Jessica attained her ATP and Flight Engineer rating in preparation for an airline career.


On Aug 27th, 1984, Jessica was hired by People Express Airlines at Newark, NJ. For the first 14 months she flew as a B-727 FE. Next she flew the B-237 100/200’s as a First Officer during the transition from PE to Continental. In early 1989 she returned to the B-727 as an FO. In 1998 Jessica upgraded to B-737 Captain and retired form Continental Airlines on May 30th, 2000.


For the past decade, Jessica has and continues to fly a variety of general aviation airplanes, including her 1945 Piper J3 Cub, plus gliders. She is active in the Order of Daedalians, Women’s Soaring Pilots Assn., SSA, Civil Air Patrol, FL Cub Flyer’s, Ninety-Nines Int’l, and holds memberships in many aviation organizations. To date she has logged 14.550 hours as pilot, 1000 as Flight Engineer, and 3232 Navigator hours.


My goal is to fly my Cub on Aug 27th, 2040, alone and unassisted.



The winners of the 2013 WINGS OVER PARADISE scholarships were honored at a reception held March 21 at the Page Field Base Ops FBO, Fort Myers, FL.  Since the chapter’s founding in 2007, Paradise Coast members have worked to raise over $15,000 for the scholarship fund, presenting the first scholarship award in 2011.

Ms. Myra Bugbee of Pembroke Pines, FL is the winner of the AST simulator/CFII instruction package donated by Mr. Jim Hendricks of Naples Flight Simulator, LLC.  . Myra is a retired public school principal who has accumulated more than 500 flight hours.
Myra and husband Roger Hirchbein own an RV 6A based at KHWO (North Perry) airport. She flew in her first Air Race Classic in 2012.
 Myra is secretary of the FL Goldcoast Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, and also a member of the Florida Aero Club and the Grasshoppers.
She will be training for her instrument rating.


The winner of the $2000 cash scholarship is Ms. Terry Carbonell of Alva, FL. Terry has over 2000 flight hours and owns a Cessna 182RG, based at Tavernaero Park Airport.
Terry is active in several aviation organizations including Women in Aviation International, Angel Flight SE, and is Secretary of Air Race Classic executive Board of Directors.  She presently serves as the Governor of the SE Section of the 99’s.
She has also written and published the “Youth and Aviation Adventure Guide” which is a reference source for aviation education for young people.
Terry is an attorney whose goal is to make aviation her full-time occupation. She will be using her scholarship to complete her commercial/multi-engine/instrument rating.

Congratulations Myra and Terry!