Ninety-Nines visit Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport

Susan Begg, right, and Asti Livington, both pilots are members of the Ninety-Nines Women Pilots group that visited the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport last Friday.

GORDON – Members of the famous Ninety-Nines Women Pilots group visited the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport as one of the venues they flew to as part of the Canadian 99’s Gold Cup Air Rally, held this past Friday-Saturday.

A total of 11 planes and 23 visitors took part in the rally and stopped, visited and had lunch at the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport last Friday hosted by the Gore Bay Flying Club (GBFC),  on the first leg of the Gold Cup Air Rally (East Canada Section).
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of this rally,” said Susan Begg, the main organizer of the rally, told the Recorder last Friday. The lady pilots converged from their home airports to Muskoka airport and left last Friday morning for the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport for lunch. Leg two entailed travelling from Gore Bay airport to Earlton Timiskaming Regional Airport. While in Earlton, the participants camped for two nights.

“Normally we would stay at a hotel, but with COVID-19 this year we decided to camp,” said Asti Livington who flew along with the rally organizer.

The friendly Gold Cup Air Rally is a take on a similar annual US race. 

The lady pilots came from all different parts of Canada and Ontario to take part in the rally. “Sue is from Ottawa and I’m from Leamington for example,” said Ms. Livington. 

Ms. Begg noted, “we’ve been here before and it is a nice friendly place.  I used to come back from the Osh Kosh air show every year and visit the Gore Bay airport and fill up on gas for the plane, and talk to Robby (Colwell) (Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport manager).

It was pointed out the air rally is not based on speed, it is more designed to develop navigation and flight planning skills for participating pilots, and act as a support network for them.   

During the lunch Mr. Colwell took the opportunity to welcome everyone. “Pilots, welcome to the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport. When Susan called us and asked if we would host the ninety-nines, I didn’t have to think long in saying yes.”
“What airport manager would not welcome a group of all lady pilots,” said Mr. Colwell. “We are very honoured to be part of your air rally this weekend.”

“On behalf of the airport and the (GBFC) we welcome all of you,” stated Mr. Colwell. He asked the pilots to raise their hands to a couple of questions; asking how many of the pilots there had visited the airport before (about eight), how many of were new pilots with one to three years experience (with two raising their hands); and how many of you have more than 20 years experience as a pilot (which took in most of the group. ”We have thousands of hours of air experience in our midst here today.” 

Mr. Colwell noted the airport recently received federal-provincial-municipal funding for major work and renovations to be carried out at the airport, including among the projects the construction of a new and much larger airport terminal building, and the lengthening and widening of a secondary runway. 

Mr. Colwell then introduced members of the GBFC on hand and added, “it’s really, really a delight to have all of you here today.”

One of the pilots stated, “and it’s a real delight to be here.”

The Ninety-Nines: International organization of Women Pilots, also known as The 99’s, is an international organization that provides networking, mentoring and flight scholarship opportunities to recreational and professional female pilots. As of 2018, there are 155 Ninety-Nines chapters across the globe. 

The organization was founded on November 2, 1929 at Curtiss Field (Oklahoma), by 26 licensed women pilots for the mutual support and advancement of women pilots. Amelia Earhart had called for a meeting of female pilots in 1929 following the Women’s Air Derby. All 117 women pilots licenced at the time were invited, and the group is named for 99 of them who attended the meeting or expressed an interest in forming a group. In 2014, the Ninety-Nines was inducted into the International Air and Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.