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Gladys Mae Morrison 1928-2002


Gladys always wanted to know how to become a pilot. Gladys was the first woman rated to instruct an approved flight engineer ground school, which she did during her tenure at Fowler Aeronautics in Burbank, California. As their Director of Publications, she also wrote the training manuals for all advanced FAA ratings, including air transport pilot. She was a fierce proponent of women in aviation at a time when only a few of them had access to flight training.

Having freelanced as a flight instructor for a number of years, Gladys became an air taxi pilot for Favor and Quail in Prescott and wrote their FAR Part 135 Operations Manual.

In 1974, while instructing at Yavapai College, Gladys helped start North-Aire Aviation, serving as its Chief Flight and Ground Instructor. Her main duties included acting as Chief Air Taxi Pilot. She also wrote North-Aire’s Part 135 Operations Manual. Gladys took over as President of North-Aire in 1988. Her experience and knowledge in aviation was invaluable to the instructors and students of North-Aire.

A role model for all women in aviation

There is no doubt that 1982 was Gladys’s year. She was named Arizona Flight Instructor of the Year, Western Region Flight Instructor of the Year and National Flight Instructor of the Year. She received many certificates for contributing in the areas of safety and proficiency in flight and was also named Master Flight Instructor by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Over the span of Gladys’s eminent career, she received many awards. Nevertheless, her interest lay not in recognition, but in encouraging and helping others women in aviation to follow their dreams.

Gladys was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame on May 4, 2002. Unfortunately she died of a brain tumor just days before the induction. Her daughter accepted the award on her behalf and stated that Gladys Morrison loved flying and considered her groundbreaking achievements “just doing her job.”

Amelia Earhart stated in 1929, “If enough of us keep trying, we’ll get someplace.” Gladys Mae Morrison lived that motto to its fullest. She was a true role model for all women in aviation out there.