California Aeronautical University Partner in Aviation Vicky Benzing will be honored at the Palm Springs Air Museum Annual Gala for her achievements as a woman in aviation. Held on Saturday, February 18th and themed "Women in Aviation: Quest for Excellence," Vicky will be among eight female luminaries from various fields of aviation who will receive recognition at the annual Gala.
Vicky is an accomplished pilot, aerobatic performer, skydiver, and air racer. She shares her passion for aviation by inspiring young people through her performances at air shows across the country. Best known for performing in her 1940 Boeing Stearman, she flies her WWII era trainer in a daring exhibition of power and grace in the spirit of vintage barnstorming.
A fearless air racer, Vicky made history in 2015 as the fastest female race pilot ever at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Nevada, reaching an awe-inspiring speed of 469.831 MPH whilst racing around pylons at 50 feet above the ground.
Vicky comments, "I feel so privileged to be counted as an honoree among so many talented and successful women in aviation. I hope that my story inspires other young women to reach for their goals and persevere through their individual hardships to achieve them. Now is a very exciting time to be in the field of aviation with so many possible career opportunities open to women as evidenced by the wide variety of careers of this year's honorees."
The star-studded Gala will feature celebrity Master of Ceremonies, Joe Mantegna, musical entertainment by The Elite Show Band, cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, and dancing inside two hangars at the Air Museum.
From astronauts to heroes, the esteemed 2023 honorees include:
• Sarah Abbott, CDR, USN; F/A-18 E/F Superhornet Deputy Program Manager
• Vicky Benzing, Internationally renowned Pilot, Skydiver, Aerobatic Performer, Air Racer
• Eileen Collins, COL, USAF (Ret) / NASA Astronaut, First Female Shuttle Pilot and First Female Commander of a Space Shuttle Mission
• Lourie A. DeBoer, Chief Warrant Officer 5, USA; Test Pilot, Instructor at US Naval Test Flight School
• Erin Miller, who advocated successfully for WASP military honors at all national military cemeteries
• Ellen Ochoa, NASA Astronaut, First Latina in Space, Four Space Shuttle Missions, Former Director, NASA Johnson Space Center
• Tammie Jo Shults, LT CDR, USN (Ret); Pilot, Test Pilot, Commercial Pilot
• Elizabeth Somerville, CAPT, USN; Commodore of Naval Test Wing Atlantic
The Palm Springs Air Museum Gala is a community-building event that raises funds to provide educational opportunities to school children, including teaching them about aviation, history, STEM opportunities and much more. Information about tickets to the event can be found here.