Press Releases

View the Whirly-Girls press release archive here. 


August 29, 2023

Whirly-Girls Open 2024 Scholarship Season

The Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund, Inc. is proud to announce the opening of the 2024 scholarship season. Deserving female aviators and maintainers can apply for over $500,000 of helicopter training and educational scholarships. These scholarships advance the helicopter industry by strengthening the talent pool and increasing diversity. Applications are available online and are due October 1st, 2023.

This year, scholarship sponsors include Airbus, Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County, Bell Helicopter, Bristow Group, CAE, Central Oregon Community College, Edward M. Thurn Trust, Erickson, FlightSafety International, Garmin, Leading Edge Flight Academy, Leonardo, MD Helicopters, Palm Beach Helicopters, PHI Aviation, Randy Mains & Oregon Aero, Robinson Helicopter Company, Southern Utah University, Survival Systems USA, Inc., Volo Mission, and many private donors. Scholarships are available for both experienced and newly-certificated pilots and maintainers, as well as those individuals who are seeking their initial ratings. Courses are offered for a variety of training objectives, including turbine transitions, software use, advanced aircraft certification, commercial flight training, airline transport licenses, and many more.

Past Whirly-Girls President, Alison Martin, stated, "When the original thirteen members of the Whirly-Girls founded this organization, they were the only female helicopter pilots in the world. They envisioned a place where female pilots could find support and camaraderie and help one another succeed. Today, our group has grown to over 2000 members but, despite this growth, females still comprise fewer than 6% of pilots. This cripples our industry, and our sponsors provide these career-building scholarships in an effort to advance women and aid the growth of aviation.” Every female pilot and mechanic owes it to herself to apply.

Scholarship applications are available at and are due October 1, 2023. Scholarships will be formally presented at the Whirly Girls Annual Banquet on February 25, 2024 at the HAI HELI-EXPO in Anaheim, CA. For more information on attending the banquet, please visit

Whirly-Girls International is a non-profit, educational, and charitable organization dedicated to advancing women in the helicopter aviation industry. The Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund, Inc. ("WGSF") was incorporated in 1974 to oversee and administer the scholarship funds raised by the Whirly-Girls and their auxiliaries, and is a federally tax exempt 501(c)(3) public charity. Initiated in 1968, the scholarship program has grown from a single $500 scholarship to a wide range of training and development scholarships.

For more information on Whirly-Girls International and Whirly-Girls scholarships, please visit or contact the VP of Scholarships, Fallon Blattner, at

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March 8, 2023

Whirly-Girls International Awards Record Number of Scholarships

Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund Inc., a non-profit, educational, and charitable organization dedicated to advancing women in the helicopter aviation industry, awarded over $500,000 in scholarships on March 5 at the Whirly-Girls Annual Awards Banquet during HAI HELI-EXPO in Atlanta, Georgia.  Thanks to the support of aviation leaders, 32 scholarships were bestowed upon deserving female aviators, the largest scholarship program in the helicopter industry.

Recipients of the 2023 Whirly-Girls scholarships are:

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

   Elizabeth Leidenheimer — Jackson, New Jersey
   Bridget Colby- Camden, NSW, Australia
   Amory Harris – Truckee, California

Garmin Aviation Online Training Course

   Michelle Lambert – Bend, Oregon
   Michelle Benke – Maricopa, Arizona

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

   Adele Dobler - Amory Harris – Truckee, California
   Heidi McBride – Siloam Springs, Arkansas
   Leah Murphy – Salisbury, Maryland
   Amory Harris – Truckee, California

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 Seitz – Larkspur, California

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 2023 Scholarship offering has been record-breaking, and we are immensely grateful to our sponsors for their generosity and support. 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” said Joanna Forrester, Whirly-Girls International Scholarship Director.

“Only 6% of helicopter pilots are women, 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 Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund, Inc. ("WGSF") 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 more than $500,000. For more information on Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund, Inc., please visit