|Elisabeth H. Pfister
CAHS Honored in 1984
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Betty Haas Pfister started a very active life on July 23, 1921, when she was born in Great Neck, Long Island, NY. She has been in Colorado since 1954.
Betty's first flight was with a barnstormer in an open biplane with two in the front cockpit. She loved it.
She learned to fly at Bennington College in Vermont, soloing in a Taylorcraft in July 1941. She spent some of the next few years building her flying time; making herself a good candidate to join the Woman's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) program.
She entered the WASPS as part of class 43-W-5, graduating in September 1943. Much of her flying in the Woman's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) was in the ferry command, flying a variety of military aircraft as large as a C47, B-17 and B-24-J. After the WASPS were disbanded in December 1944, Betty ferried military planes as a civilian, and then started instructing at a flying school in California.
By 1950, Betty was flying her personal Bell P-39-Q surplus fighter and winning air races. This plane, "Galloping Gertie" can now be seen in the EAA museum. She has flown trainers, fighters, bombers, seaplanes, sailplanes, balloons and helicopters; and she is a certified instructor for a number of aircraft types.
Betty and her pilot/husband, Art, moved to Aspen, Colorado in 1954. She was instrumental in the improvements made to the Aspen-Pitken County airport. These upgraded the facility to a first class center accommodating major airline traffic. She has been an organizer and participant in the local area rescue group, which, by the nature of the geography of the locale, has been very active.
She was the 52nd woman in the country to be rated in helicopters, and later supervised the construction of the Aspen Valley Hospital Heliport in 1966, the first for Colorado. She is a member of the "Whirly Girls" and "Twirly Birds", as well as the 99s. She was a member of the 1973 U.S. Helicopter Team competing in the World Championships in England and the 1978 competition in Russia. In 1989 and 1992, Betty was a judge at three national and international helicopter championships in the U.S. and Europe
Betty has also been a flying instructor, an aviation engineer for Bendix, a DC-3 co-pilot for several non-schedule airlines and she has been a stewardess for Pan-American Airways.
One of her major projects was working with Senator Peter Dominick of Colorado on legislation requiring the use of the Emergency Location Transmitter (ELT) mandatory.
In 1992, Betty received the Katherine Wright Memorial Award, given by the National Aeronautic Association at the 99s International Convention in Kansas City.