By Stephanie Raygoza
Coloring in a navigation compass with its signature shades of blue and white at the flight path located in the Long Beach Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center, the Long Beach Chapter of Ninety-Nines continued the long-standing tradition of guiding pilots to airports last Saturday, June 11 by painting their signature air marking for the neighboring Long Beach Airport.
Coordinated by the Office of Fifth District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske as a reminder of the rich history of Long Beach’s women being involved in aviation, the event attracted several Rosies, as well as a few of their daughters.
Public Works provided all of the paint material needed for the 36-foot circle, and the Long Beach Airport distributed breakfast and lunch for the members.
“This year is the 100th anniversary of the first transcontinental flight, so this is to commemorate that and the start of Long Beach aviation,” Amy Graham said on behalf of the councilmember. “It’s a great way for us to be in touch with these women as well, as it helps commemorate all the hard work women put in to become aviators and breaking out of those gender roles. It’s a really great thing to bring to this park.”
The Ninety-Nines have been creating their air markings for local governments and local airports since the end of World War II and were originally formed in 1929 by Amelia Earhart and Long Beach’s first woman pilot, Gladys O’Donnell.
Nora Montoya, chairman of the Long Beach chapter of the Ninety-Nines, has been a member since 1982. “We represent women that are involved in not only aviation but different parts,” she said. “We got so many women involved from different careers, but our love is aviation.”
The Long Beach chapter was formed in the 1950s and has also painted the names of airports in addition to the traditional compass rose. Its members are all licensed pilots who actively promote safety and education and provide scholarships for students interested in aviation.
The history of their namesake, according to Montoya, dates back to 1929 when Earhart and a couple of other women decided to start an organization of women in aviation. In that first group of women to show up, there were a total of 99.
“The importance is that planes are able to use it to set compass to,” Montoya said. “The planes will be able to fly over and say ‘Hey, there’s a compass rose.’ And because of our logo, Ninety-Nines, they’ll see us.”