International Ninety-Nines

Building Tomorrows Aviation History Today

The Ninety-Nines, Inc. is an international organization of women pilots from 44 countries. The organization has been international in scope since its founding. We currently have thousands of members throughout the world. The majority of our members live in the United States. We are a non-profit, charitable membership corporation holding 501(c)(3) U.S. tax status.

The organization was founded November 2, 1929, at Curtiss Field, Valley Stream, Long Island, New York. All 117 women pilots at the time were invited to assemble for mutual support, the advancement of aviation and a central office in which to keep files on women in aviation. Louise Thaden was elected Secretary and worked to keep the group together as they struggled to establish themselves and to grow. Those early purposes continue to guide the organization today.

Inspiring Women to Fly since 1929

In 1931, Amelia Earhart was elected the first president, and the group selected the name “Ninety-Nines” to represent the 99 charter members. Membership was immediately opened to other women as they became licensed pilots. In recent years membership has been opened to include women with student pilot certificates.

99s International Mission Statement:
  • Promote world fellowship through flight
  • Provide networking and scholarship opportunities for women and aviation education in the community
  • Preserve the unique history of women in aviation
For more information, contact 99s International Headquarters 
Keep reading to learn more about how the Ninety-Nines were formed in the first place! 

(Many thanks to Nancy for the following information!)

Amelia Earhart and the Ninety-Nines
On October 9, 1929, a letter went out from Fay Gillis Wells to the 117 women pilots in August of that year. The letter recognized a need to promote women in aviation and urged them to contact all licensed women pilots to come together and organize in support of each other. They were invited to attend a meeting on November 2, 1929, at Curtiss Field, Valley Stream, Long Island. Twenty-six showed up and while they were engaged in controversy over the naming of their new organization, the argument suddenly ended “when a very calm voice in the background said, “Why don’t we name ourselves after the number of our charter members?” That voice was Amelia Earhart’s.

Of the 117 licensed women pilots, 99 joined the organization as charter members, thus she name of Ninety-Nines, International Organization of Women Pilots. Amelia Earhart became its first President in 1931. The current membership is about 6000, world wide.

Fay Gillis Wells and Amelia Earhart were close friends as well as strong advocates for each other and all women pilots. Each of them left a remarkable legacy for other women to follow.

Amelia was the first woman to cross the Atlantic in 1928 and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. When questioned by reporters as to why she had done it, she answered that she just wanted to see if she could fly the Atlantic alone.’

Inspiring Women to Fly since 1929 

“My particular inner desire to fly the Atlantic alone was nothing new to me. I had “flown Atlantics” before. Everyone has his/her own Atlantics to fly. Whatever you want very much to do, against the opposition of tradition, neighborhood opinion, and so-called ‘common sense’….that is an Atlantic. I flew the Atlantic because I wanted to. To want in one’s heart to do a thing for its own sake, to enjoy doing it; concentrate all one’s energies upon it…that is not only the surest guarantee of success, it is also being true to oneself.”

In a letter to her husband, George Putnam, she wrote: “….please know that I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried, and when they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

Amelia Earhart held firm to a core and passionate belief: That women possess the courage and intelligence to do anything we truly want to do. She was a champion role model for all of us.

Amelia Earhart, born July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, disappeared somewhere near New Guinea in July, 1937, while attempting to fly around the world.

Amelia’s continued importance to the 99 organization is exemplified through the Amelia Earhart Scholarship program, the air mail stamp in her name, and the International Forest of Friendship near her birthplace.