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Theater in the Woods to Celebrate Female Pilots

June 14, 2018 - Notable women in aviation will be featured in a special program at The Theater in the Woods, sponsored by M&M’s, on Wednesday, July 25 during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018. The theme is “Celebrating Powerful Pilots,” and it will be the capstone of a day that begins with key events of EAA’s 11th annual WomenVenture activities.

The evening’s program will be hosted by retired Lt. Col. Olga Custodio, a former T-38 instructor who was the first female Hispanic military pilot in the U.S. Custodio, who also flew for American Airlines and was the first female Hispanic commercial airline captain in the country, has gained some well-deserved celebrity recently as her story has been featured as part of a popular television commercial for Modelo beer.

Custodio’s guests will include Heather Penney, senior resident fellow for the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, who is best known as one of a handful of fighter pilots scrambled in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Penney, at that time a young lieutenant flying an F-16, was under orders to intercept United Flight 93, before it crashed while passengers were attempting to take control.

The Inspector General of the U.S. Air Force, Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris will also be on the panel. Harris, who’s been in the Air Force for more than 35 years, is a command pilot who’s flown C-130s, KC-135Rs, and C-141s in addition to the T-37 and T-38 flown in training.

The panel will also include Capt. Jessica Hodson, a KC-10 instructor pilot in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and her all-female crew. Capt. Hodson will be the aircraft commander of the KC-10 Extender that’s coming to AirVenture and that will be on display for the week. When she’s not flying for the Reserve, Capt. Hodson is a first officer for UPS, flying MD-11s.

And speaking of UPS, 11-year-old future UPS pilot Taylor Peeff will also be in attendance. Last year, when Peeff was 10, she spent a day immersed in aviation as part of UPS’s Wishes Delivered campaign. She spent time in an A300 simulator, learned how to marshal an airplane, and logged her first dual instruction in a flight in a Beech Baron. UPS produced a video highlighting her day, which quickly went viral, garnering nearly 5 million views on Facebook alone.

As part of WomenVenture, Custodio will also be speaking at the WAI Connect Breakfast at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning at the PHP tent. In addition, Penney will be the featured speaker for the WomenVenture Power Lunch at Theater in the Woods at 11:30 a.m., just after the annual WomenVenture photo on Boeing Plaza at 11 a.m.  

For details on the full lineup of WomenVenture programming during AirVenture visit www.EAA.org/womenventure. Wednesday evening’s programming starts at 6 p.m. and runs until 7:30, in time for the night air show.