Amelia Earhart, a famous aviator and women's rights activist, now has a Destin counterpart.
The 99's, an international organization of women aviators, of which Earhart was an original member, has a brand new chapter on the Emerald Coast. Calling their group, The Emerald Angels of the Gulf Coast, these women pilots meet monthly to share knowledge, support and passion for flight.
"It's for young girls and women to share career and educational opportunities." said club member and Destin resident Camille Collins. "It's very hard for a young girl to envision becoming a pilot unless she sees a woman pilot."
Collins has been flying for 19 years, and told The Log that she began at the encouragement of her husband.
"He dropped me off at an airfield and said 'take some lessons.' " Collins recalled. "After I flew without an instructor I was absolutely, completely hooked!"
Amy Fooladi of Elsanor, Ala., spearheaded the formation of the new chapter.
"When I decided to get my pilot’s license the 99's did not have a chapter in the area,” she told The Log. “I contacted them and was told that if I gathered enough women, we would be able to start a group here."
Currently in the process of obtaining her pilot’s license,Fooladi shared that the greatest benefit of joining the 99's is the scholarship support they offer.
"Money should not be an issue," she said of the quest for flight. "It's an expensive hobby, but there are ways to get it almost completely paid for." Her business, Encore Development Group, will be sponsoring scholarships, with plans to donate 5 percent of their profits to the 99's in the upcoming year.
The Emerald Angels of the Gulf Coast had its inaugural meeting last month, and brought in nine members, but is seeking to grow and reach the coastal regions spanning Florida and Alabama.
"We welcome anyone who is interested or currently in aviation to participate, as long as they are a woman," said Fooladi.
When asked what flying means to her, Fooladi offered one word, "Freedom!"
WANT TO GO? The next meeting for Emerald Coast Angels of the Gulf Coast will take place on Feb. 22. For additional information email EAGC99s@gmail.com