Ilovene Potter, a long-time member of the Whirly-Girls and Ninety-Nines, died February 14 in Puyallup, Wash. She was 87. Potter earned her private-pilot license in 1941 and was the first woman in Washington state to receive a helicopter rating.
By the late 1960s, she had earned her ATP and had become chief pilot for a flight school at Seattle Boeing Field. During that time, she also worked as an instructor and as a charter pilot, performing traffic watch, photo and U.S. Forest Service flights. In 1973, she was the captain of the first U.S. helicopter team to compete in a world championship.
She taught her husband to fly a helicopter and they became the first husband-wife team in Washington. Potter competed frequently in air derbies and was the recipient of the AOPA pilot of the year award. She was also inducted into the Washington State Aviation Hall of Fame. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund, WG Treasurer Lisa Pendergrass, P.O. Box 759, Tyron, N.C. 28782.