Friday, January 31, 2014

The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour will honor the women of Boeing on Saturday, March 15, 2014, with a book signing and luncheon event to celebrate the publication of Trailblazers: The Women of The Boeing Company. The author and many of the women featured in the book are scheduled to attend.

The book signing begins at 10:30 a.m. with Boeing pilots and trailblazers Patricia Beckman, WAI 17; Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, WAI 42914; Megan Robertson; Eleanor Dickson; Sandra Jeffcoat; Nelda Lee, WAI 15; Loraine Bratset; Diana Rhea; and Laurette Koellner available for interviews, as well as author Betsy Case.

The luncheon begins at noon and will be capped off by a moderated panel of these women discussing what has inspired them over the decades.

The general public is invited to attend both events; the book signing event is free and the luncheon is $18. Tickets may be purchased at

Patricia Beckman and Nelda Lee are both serve on the Women in Aviation, International board of directors. Patricia Beckman, Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, and Nelda Lee are also all past inductees into WAI's Pioneer Hall of Fame.

  • Patricia Beckman is the first woman to qualify as a crew member in the F-15 and the first American woman to qualify as a crew member in the F/A-18.
  • Loraine Bratset, the first female line supervisor at Boeing, was hired in 1943 to work as a shipping clerk in Renton, Washington. She said that her work ethic—a belief in never missing a day, always being punctual, and turning out a perfect product every time—was what helped her rise to a management position.
  • Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann was the frist woman to join the elite Boeing Engineering Flight Test group as a test pilot, and she's the Boeing chief training pilot for more than 550 instructors worldwide. 
  • Eleanor Dickson started at Boeing as a junior engineer in 1949 right out of the University of Washington engineering school where she was the only woman in her class. Female wind tunnel engineers were pretty much unheard of when Dickson became waht was known in the late 1940s as an aerodynamicist.
  • Sandra Jeffcoat was the first African American woman to become a member of the Boeing Technical Excellence Program—winner of the 2005 National Women of Color in Technology award, she is a strong believer in mentoring young women starting on the technology career path. 
  • Laurette Koellner became the company's highest ranking women ever when she was appointed to the Office of the Chairman in 2002, serving as Chief People and Administration Officer. 
  • Nelda Lee's engineering expertise and passion for aviation led her to become the first female engineer in Flight Test Engineering for McDonnell Douglas. Ultimately becoming a licensed commercial pilot, she was the first woman to fly the F-15 Eagle. 
  • Diana Rhea was the first female manager in Manufacturing Engineering and she currently holds the longevity record at Boeing: 71 years of uninterrupted company service as of November 2013. 
  • Megan Robertson made Boeing history as the first female pilot to conduct a Chinook helicopter flight test.

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