Minnie Wade Scholarship
In 1940, at the age of 31, when Minnie Wade first soloed and became a licensed pilot, little did she know of the extent of the role that she was playing in propelling women forward in aviation. At the time of Mrs.Wade taking flying lessons from her husband at the Clanton Airport, the world of aviation wasn’t too welcoming to women. Although aviation was a glamorous profession, it was typically a dirty job, thus considered unbecoming of a woman. However, with WWII looming just a year away and a nation gripped with the Great Depression, women still were expected to roll up their sleeves.
The mother of six children still managed to triumph the rigors of rural life in Alabama and enabled all of her children to earn their pilot’s license by age 16. With that many pilots under one roof, they became known as the “Flying Wade’s”. Since that time over thirty Wade descendants soloed by age 16. Her daughter became the first woman in Alabama to earn a certified instrument flight instructor rating. In 1955, she became a member of the Ninety-Nines and tirelessly promoted aviation until her death in 1991.
The legacy of Minnie wade and what she represented to the field of aviation for half a century is now memorialized in the Minnie Wade Memorial Aviation Scholarship, sponsored by the Alabama Ninety-Nines. At this year’s Amelia Earhart Luncheon at the Birmingham Southern Museum of Flight, Ms. Kristen Cotton and Ms. Summer Smith were this year’s scholarship recipients. Also attending the event were noted women representing a host elements in Alabama aviation including representatives for Airbus in Mobile, the Bessemer Airport, and the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.