Lois Feigenbaum flew to a new horizon on September 14, 2004 after a very brief battle with lung cancer. By her side was her beloved husband, friend and long time love of her life, Bob, as well as her daughters Sue, who is also a Ninety-Nine, and Robyn, and son Keith. Lois also had two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Lois started her flying career in 1962, and within 18 months of her first solo, she obtained a Private License, Commercial License, Multi-Engine Rating, Instrument Rating and Certified Flight Instructor Rating. Thereafter, she was the 76th woman to receive an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. She was the only woman ever to receive the “Area Appreciation Award” from Southern Illinois Incorporated for her contribution to the area through her interest in aviation.
Lois was Honorary Chairman of the Bishop Wright Annual Air Industry Awards, received a Certificate of Commendation from the FAA Administrator, was on the Board of Electors for the International Aerospace Hall of Fame and was on the Radcliff College Board of Electors for the Notable American Women. In 1972 Lois was appointed by President Nixon to the Women’s Advisory Committee on Aviation (WACOA), where she served for five years, the last year of which she was co-chairman.
She was approached by President Reagan’s Transition Team to see if she would accept the appointment for FAA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Airports. She declined since it would have meant separation from her family. In 1979, Lois was the first woman to receive the Laurence P. Sharples Award from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association at their annual convention in Hollywood, Florida, and the first woman to be appointed a Regional Representative for AOPA in 1980 and 1981. She was appointed National Chairman of the United States Precision Flight Team (USPFT).
In 1983, Lois was appointed International Chairman of the World Precision Flying Competition and inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame. A few years later, she was appointed by India’s President Rajiv Gandhi as his aviation advisor.
Lois traveled all over the world promoting aviation and safety, particularly the fact that women can do anything that they want to do if they want it badly enough. Lois was honored by receiving the Elder Statesman Award in 2000 by the National Aeronautic Association, and in 2003 she received The Ninety-Nines Award of Achievement for her dedication to women in aviation for over 40 years.
Lois dedicated her time to all aspects of aviation and held many positions, including serving as International President of The Ninety-Nines, judging at NIFA and working with AOPA. She helped young women, mostly student pilots, learn how to be the safest pilots that they could be and served as a role model for young women in the aviation field at a time when women had very little standing in aviation. Lois flew in over 15 Powder Puff Derbies and Air Race Classics, placing in the top 10 in most of these races, but always with safety as the overriding premise.
In the early years, her obstacles were many, but she pursued her dream to help open the doors in the field of aviation for all women. She instilled in these young women confidence, poise and the courage to take on a challenge. She taught them to “see risk as a challenge, to meet fear with confidence and to turn failure into success.” Lois has been an inspiration for young women pilots everywhere. Several of these women went on to become airline captains and first officers.
She has touched women all over the world with her desire and love of flying, her fortitude, goals and accomplishments. She taught her daughter to fly, and when Sue was 18 years old, Lois had enough confidence in her ability that she let Sue take the family twin engine airplane to college for football season.
Lois’ dedication to aviation continued, not only with The Ninety-Nines but the International Forest of Friendship and the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, of which she served as trustee for many years. Her dream of flying turned into a life fulfilled with wings of happiness.
P.S. I wish to thank the many Ninety-Nines who gave my mother their friendship and love for these past 40 years. She cherished this and was proud to be a Ninety-Nine and to have served as one of your Past Presidents.
Lois Feigenbaum died peacefully from lung cancer on September 14, 2004, surrounded by her loving family. She would have been 76 on October 1st.