Betty’s Achievements

Betty Pfister

Betty had a spectacular personal aviation career, including serving in WWII as a W.A.S.P., for which she and her fellow W.A.S.P.s were belatedly awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, as well as countless awards and accolades through-out her career. She was active in aviation all her life, even into her eighties. 


  • 1943: Graduated from Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont, with a degree in Marine Biology.

  • Flew as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (W.A.S.P.) ferrying U.S. Army Aircraft for nearly two years during World War II.

  • Worked as flight instructor and later flew as a pilot for several nonscheduled airlines.

  • 1948-1952: Flew as a stewardess with Pan American Airways.

  • 1954: Married Arthur Pfister, moved to Aspen, Colorado where they raised their three daughters, Suzanne, Nancy and Christina.

  • 1963: Received Commercial Rotorcraft rating.

  • Served as member of Aspen Airport Authority.

  • 1966: Planned and supervised construction of Aspen Valley Hospital Heliport. This was the first hospital heliport in Colorado.

  • 1968: Founder and organizer of the Pitkin County Air Rescue Group. Was President until her retirement in May of 1991.

  • 1969: Instrumental in getting the F.A.A. to provide and staff a control tower at the Aspen Airport even though the airport did not meet normal F.A.A. tower criteria.

  • 1972-1974: Served as F.A.A. Accident Prevention Specialist.

  • 1969-1972: Member of president Nixon’s Women’s Advisory Committee on Aviation. Served as Chairman of this committee for one year.

  • 1973: Member of the U.S. Helicopter Team, competing in the World Championships in England.

  • 1976-1993: Founded and organized the annual Snowmass Balloon Races.

  • 1978: Member of the U.S. Helicopter Team, competing in the World Championships in Russia.

  • 1981: Founder and first Chapter Chairman of Aspen Chapter of the Ninety Nines, (International Organization of Women Pilots).

  • 1984: Inducted into Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.

  • 1985-1987: Served as president of the Whirly-Girls, International Women Helicopter Pilots.

  • 1986-: Member of the International Order of Characters.

  • 1991-2010: Member of the Explorers Club.

  • 1989: Served as International Judge for the Sixth World Helicopter Championships in France.

  • 1992: Appointed as Chief U.S. Judge at the Seventh World Helicopter Championships in England.

  • 1991: Received the Katherine Wright Memorial Award, presented by the National Aeronautic Association.

  • 1994: Received the Elder Statesman of Aviation Award from the National Aeronautic Association.

  • 1994: Received the Gold Medal Rotorcraft Award by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

  • 1995: Received the Livingston Award for exceptional contribution to the recognition and advancement of women in helicopter aviation.

  • 1995: Inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame.

  • 2001: Inducted into the Pioneers Hall of Fame by WAI (Women in Aviation International).

  • 2009: Awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her W.A.S.P. military service by the U.S. Congress