Jean Phelan remembered

 - March 28, 2007, 6:57 AM

Jean Ross Howard Phelan, a pioneering airplane and helicopter pilot, died early last month at the age of 87. During World War II she helped aviation legend Jackie Cochran run a base for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She learned to fly under the Civilian Pilot Training program (which later banned women from its ranks) and, in 1954, became only the eighth woman in the U.S. to get her helicopter rating. She was director of helicopter activities at the Aerospace Industries Association and founded the Whirly-Girls, the women’s helicopter pilot organization that now claims more than 1,200 members. She was president of the American News Women’s Club, wrote numerous articles about flying and is featured in the Smithsonian book Women and Flight