Betty’s Local Contributions
Betty Haas Pfister was always an adventurer with a can-do attitude. She is a powerful illustration of how sheer will, confidence and adaptability, along with a genuine optimistic nature, can see one through even the most adverse of circumstances. The images from her early flying career portray a beautiful young lady setting out on daring cross country air races, lipstick in one hand, wrench in the other.
Betty had a spectacular personal flying 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 2009, as well as earning countless awards and accolades through-out her career.
Betty’s valley-wide aviation related contributions were remarkable. Her efforts brought a heliport to the Aspen Valley Hospital, and the control tower to the Aspen Airport, both a daunting task in those times. She also founded and led for many years the Pitkin County Air Rescue group. That organization laid the groundwork for the active and vital community resource of Mountain Rescue in our valley. Finally, she founded and organized the Snowmass Annual Balloon Race which exists to this day. It is now known as the Snowmass Balloon Festival and it draws many summer visitors every year. She was active in aviation all her life, even into her elder years.
Aspen Valley Hospital Heliport
In 1966 Betty planned and supervised the construction of the Aspen Valley Hospital Heliport. This was the first hospital heliport in Colorado and has been instrumental in saving many lives.
Pitkin county Air Rescue
In 1968 Betty founded the Pitkin County Air Rescue Group and remained its president until she retired in 1991. This volunteer organization of local pilots initiated searches for downed aircraft in the mountainous regions of Colorado and had saved 32 lives by 2001. This organization has morphed into what is now known today as Mountain Rescue Aspen.
Aspen Airport Traffic Control Tower
Betty was instrumental in getting the FAA to provide and staff an air traffic control tower at the Aspen Airport in 1969, even though the airport did not meet normal FAA tower criteria.
Snowmass Balloon Races
Betty founded and organized the annual Snowmass Balloon Race from 1976 to 1993.