First Day Covers
In 1963 Fay Gillis Wells, 99 charter member, was instrumental in finalizing Clara Studer's effort of getting the US Post Office to issue the Amelia Earhart 8 cent airmail stamp on July 24, AE's birthday. At the celebration of that issuance in Atchison KS, AE's birthplace, several 99s gathered and stamped several thousand envelopes with that stamp. In the first of our "once in a decade" flyaways from AE airport in Atchison, these First Day Covers (FDC) were flown by seven charter members to the four corners of the US. Within two days they had arrived at all but four of our state capitals and were sold for the benefit of the AE Memorial Scholarship Fund (AEMSF) established in 1941. After the initial sale, most of those not sold were returned to 99 Headquarters.
In 1976 Fay Wells was appointed The 99s Chairman for America's Bicentennial. One of her ideas - she always had many of those - was to create a forest as a living, growing symbol for The 99s motto "World Friendship Through Flying". She thought that the city of Atchison in Kansas would be the place for that forest. Working with that city, Fay and Atchison citizens created "The International Forest of Friendship". Every state and many nations were invited to send a seedling of their state or national tree and these were planted in the new "forest". There is a winding "Memory Lane" through this area and every year since 1976 people of many nations have been memorialized with their names in metal plaques set in the cement walkway. These names represent all facets of the history of aviation. The trees, now over 24 years old, are growing large and truly a forest is being created.
Another idea of Fay's in 1976 was that all those First Day Covers from 1963 were valuable in that they could be used to raise funds for AEMSF. So every year since then "new " First Day Covers have been issued by adding sufficient postage to the 1963 cover (with appropriate stamps when possible) commemorating some aviation event by women. Some of the events we have used are:
Fay passed the responsibility of this project on to Alice Hammond who handled it for about 16 years. When Alice died in 1993, Barbara Evans took on the project. In the 24 years of these covers, over $40,000 has been raised for AEMSF to use for scholarships. Usually 100 covers are issued each year and they are numbered 1 to 100. The number 99 is always sent to 99s Headquarters in Oklahoma City for The 99s archives. Many people request the same number cover each year and these are reserved for them. The covers sell for various prices, depending on the commemoration, from $10 to $30.
The 1999 cover was for the 70th anniversary of The 99s and the first Women's Air Derby from Santa Monica to Cleveland. It also commemorated the opening of The 99s Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma City. A list of covers still available can be had by contacting Barbara Evans.