Press Release: The New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut is happy to announce that the creator of “New England Women Take Flight” recently earned the 16th Annual Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF). New England Women Take Flight is a research project created to establish a database of notable New England women who have made significant contributions to aviation. This research is the first step in development of an exhibit at the New England Air Museum which will honor these women for their aviation achievements.
Peggy Loeffler, a Connecticut resident and aviator, received the award on October 16, 2018 at the National Business Aviation Association’s 71st Annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition. The Combs Gates Award, which includes a $20,000 prize, was established to encourage and support relevant aviation history research and preservation efforts. A panel of expert judges reviewed each submission based upon criteria such as historical accuracy, creativity, potential for long–term impact, and value to the NAHF’s mission of honoring America’s outstanding air and space pioneers.
Ms. Loeffler’s research will support a permanent exhibit at the New England Air Museum (NEAM) that will honor the many achievements of women as aviation pioneers, pilots, astronauts and engineers and will exist as the only comprehensive collection of its kind. The exhibit will tell the inspirational stories of New England women who have contributed to the history and industry of aviation and celebrate those who had the courage and persistence to overcome gender barriers. Women of today who are pioneering new careers in aviation will also be noted as mentors for the next generation.
Loeffler, the daughter of a WWII Army Air Corps B-29 pilot, grew up flying with her father in a small plane throughout her childhood. In 1996 she obtained her private pilot certificate, and with scholarship assistance from the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots, added commercial, instrument, and instructor ratings. She is presently a flight instructor at Great Barrington Airport in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, as well as serving as a Designated Pilot Examiner for the FAA.
While serving as Chairman of the Connecticut Chapter 99s, and later, as Governor of the New England Section 99s, Ms. Loeffler participated in panel discussions and aviation workshops before groups as large as 160 girl scouts at the NEAM and co-founded a special event at the NEAM that ran annually for ten years, celebrating women in aviation, past and present, attracting hundreds of people each year. She is also co-coordinator of an aviation class at a Massachusetts high school.
Loeffler, assisted by record-setting balloonist Katherine Wadsworth Delano and several other Connecticut women, is working with staff and volunteers at the NEAM to initiate fundraising efforts to begin the design and construction of the planned exhibit. Progress can be followed through the Museum website, social media and membership communication