Sisters of the Skies Recognized with National Aeronautic Association Award

Organization earns the Henderson Trophy for its promotion and advancement of aviation.

Angel Hughes, Sisters of the Skies (SOS) cofounder and board chair, holds her cell phone as Nia Gilliam-Wordlaw, fellow SOS cofounder and CEO, leans in behind her to take a group selfie with other Black and Brown women pilots attending the 4th Annual SOS Gala held Feb. 26, 2022, in Atlanta. [Courtesy: Sisters of the Sky]

It is said that helping others get ahead in life can be its own reward, but it's also nice when your peers recognize you for your efforts. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced that Sisters of the Skies, the organization created to promote and support future Black aviators, is the 2023 recipient of the Henderson Trophy.

The Henderson Trophy was founded in 1960 and named after Clifford W. Henderson, an enthusiastic aviation proponent during the so-called “Golden Age” of aviation. He was the managing director of the National Air Races from 1938 to 1939 and is credited with obtaining sponsors for races such as the Thompson closed course classic and transcontinental race that became known as the Bendix Trophy race.

The Henderson award is given annually to a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership, or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace. Nominees are proposed by the NAA president and must be approved by the NAA executive committee.

According to the NAA, Sisters of the Skies Inc is being honored for its commitment to increase awareness of the opportunities in aviation and efforts to increase the number of Black female pilots. The group conducts outreach programs and provides scholarships, mentoring, and opportunities for professional development.

“The growth of aviation as an industry and as a career is threatened by the lack of a broad pipeline for talent,” said NAA president and CEO Greg Principato. “Sisters of the Skies makes an incredible contribution to solving that problem. They are building the future of aviation. It is exactly this kind of passion and commitment that we seek to honor with the Clifford Henderson Trophy, and it will be an honor to present the 2023 award to Sisters of the Skies.”

Sisters of the Skies History

Sisters of the Skies was created in 2016 by two pilots with the intent of helping the few Black female pilots flying for the military and in commercial aviation to make professional connections. Since its inception, the organization has grown to one that provides representation to new pilots and support to those already enjoying aviation careers.

“The Henderson Trophy holds profound significance for Sisters of the Skies, serving as a testament to our unwavering dedication and commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable industry,” said Sisters of the Skies co-founder Nia Gilliam-Wordlaw. “This prestigious award validates our mission, recognizes our accomplishments, and powerfully affirms the impact we are making in the field of aviation. We are honored to be a recipient.”

The award will be celebrated at the Sisters of the Skies Scholarship Gala on February 3.

The National Aeronautic Association is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to fostering aviation activities and promoting the importance of aviation and space flight to the general public. The NAA certifies all national aviation records set in the United States and is the caretaker of some of the many aviation awards in the world.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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