664976_434361706613686_1586231866_o-300x111Just as women stepped up in the United States to back up the overseas front-line efforts of American GIs during World War II, so has the Rio Colorado Chapter of the 99s and its behind-the-scenes preparation for the upcoming Wings Wheels & Waves open house scheduled, March 7, at the Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., showcasing aircraft and aviation-related activities, as well as the annual Big Boys Toys event. There is a $2 parking charge with proceeds going to the local non-profit Initiative for Growth Foundation. Admission in event is free. The 99s are a national woman’s flying organization founded by legendary pilot Amelia Earhart, whose achievements as a woman pilot in the 1930s made headlines until her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. Earhart formed the first female pilots group, her goal was 100 members, and 99 signed up – thus the name. Earhart organized the Air Race Classic in 1929 for women. Air races at that time were popular and dominated by men. Shannon Hicks, a veteran commercial pilot and instructor with 6,000 hours in her log book, and longtime member of the 99s competed in the 2012 Air Race Classic event that originated at the airport here. “Women had a huge responsibility during World War II,” says Hicks. Women also patrolled the coastlines with the Civil Air Patrol. It was a team effort, she says, with the men in combat and the women supporting them at home. “They [women] were needed more than was realized at the time. “They filled in the gap that wasn’t well publicized. Because the guys were out fighting, it fell back on the women to train pilots, ferry aircraft and fly planes that some men couldn’t because of their size.” The local 99s chapter is responsible for organizing what will be a crowded ramp of parked aircraft, high-tech cars, hot rods, classic cars, helicopters, rock crawlers, motorcycles and a warbird with a World War II combat record, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, and beer garden to raise money for its scholarship program – qualified women students who meet certain requirements receive money to offset student aviation costs. The 14-member chapter is also organizing youth programs to introduce neophytes to the world of the cockpit and of flight. That includes Captain Safetypants, who conducts a ground school for kids, a walk around aircraft inspection, and cockpit orientation. She’s Tara Samuels, a Civil Air Patrol pilot from California. For more information please contact the Lake Havasu Municipal Airport Operations at (928) 764-3330.