Helicopters Magazine

Whirly-Girls International unveils 2023 scholarship recipients

February 1, 2023  By Helicopters Staff

Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund Inc., a non-profit, educational, and charitable organization dedicated to advancing women in the helicopter aviation industry, announced the recipients of the 2023 Whirly-Girls Scholarship Awards. The scholarships will be awarded March 5, 2023, at the Whirly-Girls Annual Awards Banquet during HAI Heli-Expo in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The 2023 Scholarship offering has been record-breaking, and we are immensely grateful to our sponsors for their generosity and support,” said Joanna Forrester, Whirly-Girls International Scholarship Director. “The cost of flight training can be prohibitive for any pilot, and with the continued help and involvement of our sponsors, we are able to provide crucial training opportunities and mentorship to a new generation of female helicopter pilots.

“Only six per cent of helicopter pilots are women,” Forrester continued, “and by raising awareness in the community and providing a strong scholarship program, one of our goals is to help widen the talent pool and bring a broader range of experience, skills and background to the aviation industry.”

The organization has awarded 32 scholarships upon deserving female aviators, including:


Advanced Mountain Flight Training
Grace Wagner – Grand Canyon, Arizona

Airbus Inadvertent IIMC Training
Maria Loken-Kim – Kona, Hawaii

Bristow Group Initial Helicopter Flight Training
Katherine Cowley – Squamish, BC, Canada

Erickson & Volo Mission Vertical Reference/External Load Training
Jessica Meiris – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Flight Safety International Bell 206/Bell 407 Flight Training
Munanie Mbatha – Ormond Beach, Florida

Garmin GTN & Flight Display Pilot Training Course
Allison Abellaneda- Lakeville, Minnesota
Bridget Colby- Camden, NSW, Australia
Amory Harris – Truckee, California

Garmin Aviation Online Training Course
Michelle Lambert – Bend, Oregon
Elizabeth Leidenheimer – Jackson, New Jersey

Leading Edge Flight Academy & Central Oregon Community College Helicopter Instrument Rating
Kellye Evans – Phoenix, Arizona

Leonardo Helicopters AW139 Flight Training Course
Adele Dobler – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Elizabeth Vavashe – Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Leonardo Helicopters AW139 Flight Training Course
Jenetta Rutherford – Calgary, Alberta, Canada

MD Helicopters MD500 Flight Training
Michelle Benke – Maricopa, Arizona

Oregon Aero CRM/AMRM Instructor Training
Allison Abellaneda – Lakeville, Minnesota
Adele Dobler – Amory Harris – Truckee, California
Heidi McBride – Siloam Springs, Arkansas
Leah Murphy – Salisbury, Maryland

Palm Beach Helicopters CFI/CFII Rating
Amy Ehn – Kona, Hawaii

PHI Aviation Bell 407 Scholarship
Michelle Astergard – Kungsbacka, Sweden
Sage O’Loughlin – Yamhill, Oregon

Robinson Helicopters R22/R44 Safety Course
Maria Romero Abella – Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

Robinson Helicopters R66 Safety Course
Leah Murphy – Salisbury, Maryland

Southern Utah University (SUU) Career Flight Training
Isabella Blair – Grenada, Mississippi

Survival Systems USA Aviation Survival & Egress Training
Diana Arias – League City, Texas
Samantha Hansen – Hilo, Hawaii

Edward M Thurn Memorial Flight Training
Haley Follman – Creede, Colorado

Lora Trout Memorial Flight Training
Leah Seitz – Larkspur, California

Whirly-Girls Jean Tinsley Memorial Heli-Expo
Vanessa Mendoza – Boise, Idaho

Whirly-Girls Initial/Add-on Flight Training
Genie Mulari – Corona, California

The Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund was incorporated to oversee and administer the scholarship funds raised by the Whirly-Girls and their Associates. Initiated in 1968, the scholarship program has grown from a single $500 scholarship to a wide range of training and development scholarships valued today at more than $500,000.


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