More than 100 scholarships were distributed to WAI members during the 27th annual International Women in Aviation Conference to WAI members at every stage of life, from university students to mature members seeking a mid-life career change to aviation. A total of $661,234 in scholarships was awarded this year.

The scholarship which helped attain the team million dollar total was sponsored by King Schools. The Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors includes $5,000 toward an advanced CFI rating and lifetime access to the entire King Schools course library, bringing the total value of the scholarship to $18,120.

King Schools co-chairman and scholarship namesake Martha King said, "We have supported WAI since the beginning of the organization. I am humbled and proud that this scholarship is the one that took WAI over the ten million dollar mark. I hope that this milestone inspires others to also step up and support the goals of WAI. The organization provides invaluable support for women building careers in the aviation industry."

The Martha King Scholarship was given to WAI member Lindsey Dreiling, an Associate Dean/Professor of Technology & Aviation at Kansas State University in Salina, Kansas. She has a commercial pilot certificate with single and multi-engine airplane and instrument ratings. She is also a certificated flight instructor for single engine and instrument airplane. Lindsey is pursuing her doctorate in aviation and will use the scholarship to help achieve her goals.

From its humble start of two $500 scholarships in 1995, when WAI first decided to award a scholarship at its annual conference and sold $1 tickets to raise funds, to a scholarship program exceeding $10,000,000, the award-sponsoring companies, organizations and individuals have changed and enhanced the lives of hundreds of deserving recipients.

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Legislation introduced to allow the burial of WASPs at Arlington Cemetery

Irvine High School Student Awarded Summer

Scholarship to Sally Ride Science Junior Academy

April 4, 2017 –– WAI San Diego is pleased to announce that Karina Orozco has been selected to receive a scholarship provided to us by UCSD Extension, for one middle- or high-school student to attend the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy. The Junior Academy is in its second year and offers science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) workshops for students entering 6th-12th grade. During these workshops, students assume the roles of space explorer, ocean engineer, computer scientist, and more as they immerse themselves in hands-on projects.

Karina is a sophomore at Irvine High School and is interested in basketball, photography, video production, and Photoshop. She expressed interested in this scholarship partly due to the hands-on nature of the program. Karina said she "loves technology and the fact that it is always evolving, and because our world revolves around it." She is looking forward to working with different technologies that she doesn't have access to in school. Karina said that she "believes that being able to collaborate with new people will be a great experience to have for later in life; overall I think this will help me learn and grow in a fun and positive way!"

We are thrilled to award this scholarship to Karina for the 2017 program, and we extend our thanks to our sponsor, UCSD Extension. Get more information on the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy.

WAISD President Jill Meyers honored with

 2016 Women in Leadership Award


WAI San Diego's 2016 Scholarship Award Winner Announced

February 3, 2017 –– Women in Aviation International (WAI) San Diego Chapter is pleased to announce the winner of their 2016 Aviation Career Scholarship. WAI San Diego Chapter President Jill Meyers awarded the $2,500 scholarship to Eileen Shea Davis, to recognize Shea’s aviation accomplishments thus far and to acknowledge her impressive career goals.



Jill represented the Scholarship Committee in saying, “It was my honor to award our first Chapter Scholarship to Shea, who exemplifies what WAI is all about. We strive to provide support and encouragement to women seeking challenging careers in aviation and aerospace. Shea’s personal and career successes, and determination to do great things in aviation, far exceeded those of the other applicants.”

Shea grew up in Southern California with a love for the sciences. From the time she was a very young girl, she wanted to venture into space and explore the unknown. Shea graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and an emphasis in Marine Biology. After graduation, she joined the United States Navy as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, working on maintenance and upkeep of aircraft engines. Once she got a taste of the aviation life she was hooked.


Shortly after she enlisted, Shea decided to work towards a commission as a Naval Aviator. To that end, she began studying Professional Aeronautics at San Diego’s Miramar Community College in pursuit of an Associate’s Degree. Shea also began taking flying lessons with local aviation legend Dave Derby, flying his Citabria out of Gillespie Field.

She submitted her Officer Candidate School application package in October and is eagerly awaiting the results. After getting her Navy commission, Shea’s goals are to fly the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and hopefully get orders one day to join NASA’s astronaut corps. In winning this scholarship, Shea said, “I hope to follow in the footsteps of the strong women who have already made great strides in advancing women in science and aviation, and I hope to inspire and mentor other women and girls who also have the dream of flight and space exploration.”

The WAI San Diego 2016 Aviation Career Scholarship was funded by the University of California San Diego (UCSD), who now runs the nonprofit Sally Ride Science, an organization that inspires young people in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Dr. Edward Abeyta, Director or Pre-Collegiate and Career Preparation Programs & Assistant Dean for Community Engagement said “UC San Diego is pleased to support WAI’s efforts to engage, inspire, and develop young women to be our next engineers, pilots, and much more in this high growth industry sector.”

 A portion of the scholarship money will be used to fund Shea’s flight training hours as she works to complete her private pilot certificate. The remaining funds will be used to send Shea on an all-expenses paid trip to the 2017 International Women in Aviation Conference in Orlando, Florida in March. WAI San Diego and UCSD congratulate Shea Davis in being selected for this award.
  Shea was accepted and has completed Officer Candidate School and is currently completing her Advanced Pilot Training in jets in Meridian, MS.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/AP) - Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) was at Palomar Airport Sunday for "The Greatest Generation Meets the Next Generation: Women in Flight", an event honoring Women Air Force Service Pilots. The panel was hosted by Women in Aviation International, San Diego Chapter, The Red Door Films, and Jet Source.

Davis spoke about her efforts in Congress to restore military burial honors for female World
War II Air Force pilots. 

Congratulations to chapter member Rich Martindell, who will receive the 2016 National FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year award at AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer on July 28th. WAI members attending AirVenture are invited to attend the ceremony and help celebrate this achievement for a WAI member. Rich is an instrument flight instructor and the Vice President of Course Development at King Schools. He and a group of volunteers organize a monthly Wings seminar in San Diego every month. Rich also shares his experiences as an Air Force pilot flying F-4s and F-15s, with other pilots in the RedStar Pilots Association and also with pilots in the Mooney Caravan who want to learn how to fly in formation.

News Archives

Fight for military burial honors for WASP pilots

For 50 years, female World War II pilots have fought to be treated like their male counterparts. In her last year in office, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is joining their final battle: to be allowed into Arlington National Cemetery when they die.

Along with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mikulski (D) introduced legislation to again give that option to Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.

Elaine D. Harmon, a Marylander who died last year at the age of 95, was 25 when she signed up for the WASPs. She and her 1,101 fellow female pilots flew planes across the country and helped men train for combat, sometimes by taking live ammunition. They were paid less than male pilots and received no benefits. It wasn’t until 1977 that they were recognized as military veterans, although 38 of them died during their service.

Harmon, who attended the first funeral for a WASP held at Arlington, told her family that she wanted her ashes to be laid to rest there with her fellow pilots, relatives said.


King Schools Scholarship Puts WAI Over the $10

Million Mark

Martha and John King, esteemed members of WAI San Diego, sponsored the The Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors, which was awarded during the recent International Women in Aviation Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. This scholarship brings the total scholarships awarded to more than $10,100,000 since the inception of the WAI scholarship program in 1995.

Rich Martindell to receive the 2016 National FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year award

"I loved the job, in fact I asked for it, because it involved so much acrobatics and I could fly at night if I wanted to and I Ioved that," said Alyce Rohrer, a former mechanical test pilot. "When we graduated, we would graduate as First Lieutenant, just like the boys did."

The Women Airforce Service Pilots were a special unit that flew noncombat missions to free up male pilots for combat. During the war, the women were considered civilians, but in 1977, federal law granted them status as veterans. Since 2002, they have been eligible to have their ashes placed at Arlington with military honors. But in March 2015, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh ruled WASPs never should  have been allowed in and revoked their eligibility.

Just over 1,000 women were accepted into the WASP program, which ran from 1942 to 1944. There are an estimated 112 WASPs still alive, according to Kate Landdeck, a history professor at Texas Woman's University.

Tiffany Miller is the granddaughter of a WASP who organized a petition to push Congress to pass a bill allowing her grandmother to be inurned at Arlington. "She considered Arlington National Cemetery to be a museum of sorts, so anybody who goes there would know the WASPs did exist and their contribution to the war was important," said Miller.

Rep. Davis is supporting a bi-partisan bill to restore inurnment rights at Arlington. The bill is currently in the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "We think they made the wrong decision when it came to taking away the ability of Women Airforce Service Pilots to be buried there," said Davis. "They volunteered for this job and it's important that they be treated with the respect they deserve."

Elaine Harmon served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) organization during WW II.

WAISD President Jill Meyers honored with

 2016 Women in Leadership Award


September 16, 2016 –– WAI San Diego Chapter President Jill Meyers was acknowledged for her outstanding leadership, character and integrity, not only in her field of Aerospace Engineering, but in a large part for the work she does for WAISD and the San Diego community as a whole.

As members of WAISD, we all know of Jill’s unwavering commitment to promoting the involvement of women and girls in aviation and aerospace. It is heartening to see that we are not the only ones who appreciate all she does for women, especially in the San Diego area.

We congratulate Jill for this recognition of her professional excellence, her contributions of time and energy to the improvement of our community, and for actively assisting women in realizing their full potential.

 Jill received the 2016 Women in Leadership Award from the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, one of seven winners out of 35 nominees. The Annual Women In Leadership Luncheon takes place every fall and celebrates women from all over San Diego County who have made an impact on their community. The awards were presented at a luncheon with over 350 attendees and covered by local media.

The Women in Leadership Award recognized the dedicated work Jill does with WAI and in her acceptance speech she talked about how much it means to her to help the next generation of women interested in aviation and aerospace. She spoke about what inspired her as a young woman, and of the number of times she was told "no, you can't do that", or "no, you shouldn't do that" because she was a girl. Luckily for those of us who know her for the leader she is, she went ahead and did those things anyway.
Read more about Jill’s background.

(Jill’s speech received the only full-room standing ovation of the event and she has already been contacted about several speaking engagements.)
Read her speech.

In addition to Women in Leadership Award, this month Jill was also named Section Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee for the San Diego Chapter of The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Thank you, Jill Meyers, for serving as a role model and mentor to other women and girls and for advocating for the positive social change that helps close the leadership gap. You have earned the respect of your community and your peers with your actions and attitude and absolutely deserve this recognition for giving your time, talents and resources to the women and girls of San Diego.