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April 22, 2002

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000

Release: 02-45AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to cover two overlapping events that will highlight women's contributions to a century of powered flight, 'Aero Expo II' on Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25, and 'Take Our Daughters to Work Day' on Thursday, April 25. Both events will take place at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from Highway 101, drive east to the Ames main gate to check in and receive maps and directions to Internet webcast sessions and youth tour stops at Ames. U.S. media representatives must have valid picture ID in order to enter Ames. Foreign media representatives must be escorted, if cleared for entry.


NASA will pay tribute to women's contributions to a century of powered flight with two events on April 24 - 25, portions of which will be broadcast via the Internet on April 25.

Women pilots and other experts will take part in NASA Internet 'Webcasts' and 'chats' intended for young people across the world on April 25 for 'Take Our Daughters to Work Day,' and for 'Aero Expo II.' Many of the activities also will be seen live by about 1,100 San Francisco Bay area students at NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of California's Silicon Valley from April 24 through April 25 as part of 'Aero Expo II.'

"Both events celebrate women's contributions to aviation over the last hundred years," said NASA 'Quest' Web site developer Susan Lee. "Women have made some significant contributions to aerospace, and there are many careers in that field that young girls might eventually pursue."

"Our goal is to accommodate as many students as possible from underrepresented and/or underserved schools," said Antoinette Battiste, who organized of much of the Aero Expo II effort at Ames. Students from 24 different California community schools -- King City to San Pablo, Oakland to San Jose, Salinas to Atherton -- are participating, she said.

Three women -- an aerobatic champion pilot, a Civil Air Patrol pilot and a Boeing 737 pilot --- will discuss women's contributions to the first century of flight as part of a one-hour Webcast that begins at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) on April 25 in the Ames main auditorium, N201. This and other Internet NASA Quest events can be accessed on the World Wide Web from:

Webcasts enable students to watch live video, listen to audio and interact in real-time on the Internet with experts. Locally, employees and their children -- both boys and girls -- can participate in a myriad of events at NASA Ames on April 25.

"The kind of flying I do (aerobatic maneuvers like loops, rolls, spins and hammerhead turns) is very physically demanding," said Cecilia Aragon, a computer scientist at NASA Ames who will participate in the Webcast. "I sustain G-forces of up to 12 G's positive and 9 G's negative. What this means is that my body can weigh up to 12 times its normal weight -- or 9 times its normal weight hanging in the straps."

Since 1990, Aragon has been a professional air show pilot and has logged more than 4,800 hours, flying at shows and competitions in the United States and Europe in front of millions of spectators. At her NASA Ames job, Aragon develops software for aircraft and spacecraft flight-testing.

A search and rescue pilot for the Civil Air Patrol, Wendy Holforty is a second member of the Webcast panel. "As a search-and-rescue pilot, I fly in search of downed aircraft and during disaster relief," she said. After college, she became the first female patrol police officer in East Lansing, Mich. "During my career as a police officer, I learned to fly airplanes and decided to make aviation a larger part of my life."

"At first I wanted to be an airline pilot. I then realized, that while being a pilot was glamorous, the only time it became really exciting was when something went wrong," Holforty said. "This made me turn to engineering and aircraft design. So I quit the police force and went back to school to get a degree in engineering." She now works at NASA Ames as an aerospace engineer.

The third member of the webcast panel is Mitzi Saylor, a captain for United Airlines. "Shortly before graduating college in 1986, I changed job positions to the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System, and shortly after graduation I acquired my instrument rating, commercial pilot license, and multi-engine rating. Over the next several months I also acquired part-time jobs flying skydivers and flying traffic watch for KGO (San Francisco)," she said. In early 1998, she became a Boeing 737-300 captain.

"I just love science and aviation so much, and I want to expose the students to another aspect of life out there. There are thousands of interests in the world, and I’m happy to share my one small part of the world. Some kids think it might be unattainable and out of their reach, but anybody can do this as long as you have a strong interest in it," Saylor said. More information about the women and their careers is on the Internet at

Also on April 25, at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) there will be an hour-long 'Web chat' in both Spanish and English with Fanny Zuniga, who works in the NASA Ames Virtual Motion Simulator where NASA astronauts and pilots train. During Internet chats, youngsters use computers to converse with mentors by typing questions and reading responses and dialogue via the World Wide Web.

"I currently am working on developing new design tools and processes that will incorporate new information technologies to help design better-performing and safer space vehicles," she said. During this bilingual chat, questions asked in English will be answered in English, and those asked in Spanish will be answered in Spanish. Young people will be able to see the simulator in person at Ames on April 24 and April 25 during on-site tours for Aero Expo II and on April 25 for employees' children.

April 25 Daughters' (and sons') Day activities at Ames for employees and their children also include a one-hour session in the main auditorium, N201, beginning at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT). During the 'Leisure flying' session, private pilots and aeronautics experts will teach student how to prepare a flight plan. This program also will be Webcast via the NASA Quest Web site.

'Aero Village' hands-on activities for students will take place in Hangar 211 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. PDT on both April 24 and April 25. Students also will see an exhibit of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that will house the largest airborne telescope in the world. In addition, students will climb behind the controls of a Hiller H-4 Interactive Helicopter provided by the Hiller Aviation Museum and a flight simulator from the California Antique Aircraft Museum. Other hands-on events include a hang-gliding simulation, a paper airplane contest and a computer lab where students can design their own airplanes. Various aircraft will be on display in Hangar 211, too.

For more information: Internet Events and 'on site' events


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