by Alicia Doyle
Since she started taking flight lessons in 1994, Judy Phelps is now among one of only 6 percent of females in the population of pilots, and largely credits her flight success to the Ventura County 99s.
“These are a great group of gals and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” said the 56-year-old resident of Santa Paula.
The local chapter is part of the Southwest Section of the Ninety-Nines, Inc.: International Organization of Women Pilots, a nonprofit organization comprised of more than 6,000 women who promote the advancement of aviation through mutual support, scholarships and education. Local members include military pilots and generational aviation pilots, as well as professionals who fly for the movie industry, airlines, government entities and corporations.
“We have a big presence here with over 100 members, and our chapter does a really good job of promoting women in aviation,” said Phelps, who was recognized by the chapter as the Woman Pilot of the Year in 2006 and named the 2008 Professional Woman Pilot of the Year by the southwest section of the organization.
Phelps, as past chair of the local chapter, will showcase her aerobatic flight skills on Aug. 17 and 18 at the 39th annual Wings Over Camarillo at the Camarillo Airport. Aligning with this year’s theme, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day, event highlights include a parade led by World War II veterans as grand marshals. There will also be displays of more than 200 classic cars along with old and new military planes and helicopters. A STEM pavilion will feature the skills of local students participating in a robotics contest.
“For the first time we will have pyrotechnics during our WWII military aircraft combat performance,” said Linda Ehrlich, the event’s secretary and marketing director. “We also will be hosting the FIRST Robotics Competition of 2019 as part of our enhanced STEM Pavilion, sponsored by California Lutheran University.”
Wings Over Camarillo, presented by California Aeronautical University, is hosted by the Camarillo Wings Association, a nonprofit organization that has donated nearly $175,000 to local charities over the past nine years.
Wings Over Camarillo takes place Aug. 17-18 at the Camarillo Airport, 555 Airport Way. Gates open at 9 a.m.; air demonstrations begin at noon. Cost is $25 for general admission; $15 for active military, $10 for ages six to 12. For more information, call 805-419-3530 or visit wingsovercamarillo.com.