The 99’s Museum of Women Pilots is dedicated to preserving the history of women in early aviation to present day. This museum is a hidden gem located on the grounds of the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City.
*All photos were taken at the 99’s Museum in OKC, Oklahoma.
The 99’s Museum of Women Pilots was opened in 1999 – but that’s not why it’s called the 99’s Museum. The 99’s were a group of 99 female pilots who first met in 1929. Their first headquarters was in New York, but it was moved to Oklahoma City in 1955. They began fundraising for the 99’s museum in 1972 and by 1975 some land became available.
There is over 5,000 square feet of history and artifacts to walk through in the museum today. There is also a huge archive with some really cool resources like oral histories!
My Favorite Exhibit: A Timeline of Historic Flights by Amelia Earhart
So, I started researching the story of Amelia Earhart because one of my buddies wanted to know more about her story. I found out the 99’s Museum of Women pilots has one of the largest collections of Earhart’s personal belongings – and that it happened to be located in Oklahoma City of all places! So my dad and I made a road trip to check out this museum!
The collection is well-researched and put together. They have Amelia Earhart’s personal treasures, a piece of one of her airplanes, and even a lock of her hair!
My 2nd Favorite Exhibits: Women Aviators of WWII & WASP
Many women served during World War II. Jackie Cochran founded the Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron (WAFS) in 1942. Then Nancy Harkness Love founded the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) in 1942. In July 1943, the two groups merged to form the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. Jackie Cochran was the leader of the women.
Training for WASP lasted four months. There were 1,078 women in the WASP, but they weren’t made official members of the US military until 1977. The WWII WASP were awarded the WWII Victory Medal in 1984 and were given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
The Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots (WASP) were one group who served. These female pilots were employed by the United States Federal Civil Service and volunteered to join the war effort to fill the shortage of male pilots. These women worked in civilian jobs which allowed men to go fight in combat missions in Europe. The women’s job was the test and ferry aircraft and train more pilots.
Several female pilots served in other military forces besides the United States. For example, the British had the ATA and the ‘Night Witches’ served in the Soviet Union.
There are several other cool permanent exhibits in the 99’s Museum that cover early aviation through present day. All of the exhibits in this article can be viewed online! But there are other exhibits in the museum that make the trip to the actual museum in OKC totally worth it 🙂
The following exhibits can be viewed online: the 1929 Powder Puff Derby, Jerrie Cobb and Space Exploration, and the Marion P. Jayne Collection.
This museum is a hidden treasure in Oklahoma City. I am so happy that I happened to stumble across it on a museum list. It was well worth the drive to visit and learn about the history of women in aviation! I hope you’ll go visit – in-person or virtually through their website!
Happy traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂
4300 Amelia Earhart Drive, Ste A
Oklahoma City, OK 73159-1106