Chicago Area 99s Holds Aviation Expo This Weekend

Saturday expo includes a little aviation for everyone.

Aviation expo sessions run pretty full each year.Rob Mark

On the last Saturday in January – this Saturday in fact – the Chicago chapter of the 99s holds its VFR/IFR aviation safety expo typically drawing 300 people from Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, mostly pilots in search of a day of brush-up training. Noted aviator Amelia Earhart was the first president of this international organization for women pilots.

Expo audiences always include a few dozen aspiring pilots, as well as the spouses of many attending pilots, men and women who would easily be overwhelmed when discussions turn to meaty topics like GPS navigation, weather or aerodynamics. Luckily the 99s creates separate tracks aimed at a variety of audiences like the VFR or IFR pilots and sessions created especially for flying companions and aspiring pilots. Attendees aren’t locked in to any one track and are free to move around between rooms during sessions. The end result is everyone wins.

As in the past, this year’s 99’s safety expo is free of charge and open to all. Sessions include runway safety best practices, medical issues, where to find the best grass runways, an in-depth look at IFR charts and procedures, aviation weather and a chat with a couple of TRACON controllers from Chicago O’Hare (KORD). Other presentations will focus on flying basics for spouses and budding new pilots. The expo always takes a close look at the TLC needed to help transform a flying companion from someone who is just a passenger who might even be frightened around small airplanes into a valuable resource.

Amelia Earhart was the first president of the 99s.Wikimedia Commons

The annual Chicago 99's expo happens this Saturday January 26 at the Holiday Inn in Itasca, Illinois, on Illinois Route 19, about five miles west of O'Hare International Airport with the first session starting at 8:45 a.m. The day concludes at 4 p.m. A buffet lunch is available for a nominal charge and, if the weather's clear, it's not unusual to see dozens of attendees standing outside the hotel's front door after lunch watching the airliners departing KORD.

In addition to the dozen speakers and the members who donate their time to create the expo, there are normally a few dozen local vendors available to engage the huge audience between sessions. While men are not allowed to become full members of the 99s, they can, like this writer, become a Friend of the 99s.