Celebrating Women: Connecticut Women in Aviation

Womens History

One of the many fields traditionally dominated by men: aviation.

Only about six percent of pilots are women.

Those that have achieved that status jumped over incredible hurdles.

News 8 spoke to three women in different type of aviation at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks. These three women pushed through male-dominated skies to take flight.

Terry VandenDolder of Madison, an American Airlines pilot, served the country for nearly 30 years in the United States Air Force and Reserves becoming a decorated Lieutenant Colonel.

VandenDolder decided to become a pilot while attending UCONN. She went on to become a top-notch pilot earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel finding herself flying missions, some solemn during Operation Desert Storm.

We were carrying a full airplane from top to bottom front to back with empty metal caskets just in case they were needed later on and unfortunately after the barracks of Bahrain were hit by a scud missile, I was on the flight that returned 12 of those back to the U.S. from Bahrain with KIA’s or our soldiers men and women that were killed in action, said VandenDolder.

Kathy Wadsworth, of Farmington is an aeronaut who flew balloons over remote areas of the world.

In the 1970s, Kathy Wadsworth and a male counterpart flew hot air balloons all over the world including Venezuela achieving altitude, distance and duration records.

It was challenging, I mean these areas that we were flying in were remote, one was Angel Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the world, one was an Archipelago of 113 islands all around off the coast of Venezuela and the Caribbean, said Wadsworth.

Peggy Loeffler of Oakville is a Chief Flight Instructor at Berkshire Aviation in Massachusetts. She started flying as a child, and became a flight instructor and examiner producing America’s new pilots.

I never saw a woman in the cockpit of a commercial plane because they were not allowed to fly, Loeffler said.

Loeffler is bringing women of note in flight together in a future permanent exhibit at the New England Air Museum. I find great pleasure in sharing my passion for being in the sky with someone whose brand-new to flying. 

Learn more about the New England Air Museum at www.neam.org.

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