The National Aeronautic Association on Friday honored Women in Aviation International founder Peggy Chabrian with its 2020 Cliff Henderson Trophy. The association separately will present its 2019 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Trophy to Shelly Simi.
Among the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, the Henderson trophy was established in honor of the creator of the National Air Races and recognizes “a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the U.S.”
Chabrian is honored for founding WAI and its conference that began in 1990 with an initial gathering of 150 people at Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Arizona campus. The association launched a handful of years later with 16 founding board members. Its membership now spans more than 14,000, while the conference draws 4,500 and has been a venue for more than $13 million in scholarship awards.
Over her career, Chabrian has served in a number of senior academic positions at Parks College, Embry-Riddle, and Georgia State. She is a commercial pilot with more than 2,300 hours in airplanes, seaplanes, and helicopters.
“If ever anyone has embodied the criteria for the Cliff Henderson Trophy it is Peggy Chabrian,” said NAA president Greg Principato. “She is a visionary leader whose skill and energy have forever changed aviation for the better. Her work will truly inspire future aviators for generations to come.”
In accepting her award, Chabrian, who retired recently, said, “My tenure as president and CEO of Women in Aviation International has been the highlight of my working life. It was never just a job. It’s been a passion.” She added that she plans to keep her hand in the industry as a consultant.
In addition to honoring Chabrian, NAA will shorty recognize Simi with its Stinson Trophy that was created in 1997 in honor of the sisters Katherine and Marjorie Stinson, who were among the first 11 American women to be certified as airplane pilots through the NAA predecessor Aero Club of America.
The trophy is presented to a living person for “an outstanding and enduring contribution to the role of women in the field of aviation, aeronautics, space, or related sciences,” NAA said. “Simi is being recognized for ‘her accomplishments as a successful and passionate aviation professional and for dedicating over 25 years to opening minds and doors for women in pursuit of aviation opportunities of every kind.’”
Simi’s career has spanned from her initial post at Federal Express to representing the industry at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, as well as at numerous companies, including Adam Aircraft, Jeppesen, Boeing Digital Aviation, and Aurora Flight Sciences. Most recently president and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, she has been involved in a number of advocacy organizations, including as a founding board member of WAI and helped develop numerous industry growth initiatives, including Be A Pilot, Learn to Fly, GA TEAM 2000 and No Plane, No Gain.