Memories of Betty Haas Pfister's many accomplishments are shared on the ’gram @BettyFlies.
Betty Haas Pfister never laid eyes on an aircraft that she didn’t want to fly. After receiving her pilot’s license while studying at Bennington College, Pfister joined the war effort as a member of the Women’s Air Service Patrol, an elite group of female flyers responsible for ferrying aircraft—including Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators—around the country from manufacturing facilities to operating bases. The WASP’s WWII service was uncompensated, and largely unrecognized, until they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Pfister’s beloved Bell P-39Q Airacobra “Galloping Gertie,” which won numerous cross-country races, is on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Pfister’s fervor for flying was rivaled only by her affection for Aspen, and she combined her passions in service to the community for over 50 years. She was responsible for the planning and construction of the Aspen Valley Hospital Heliport—the first of its kind in Colorado—and was instrumental in the approval of a control tower at Sardy Field. She also founded and flew numerous life-saving missions for Pitkin County Air Rescue, the precursor to the modern-day Mountain Rescue, and founded the annual Snowmass Balloon Race.
Pfister’s pioneering spirit lives on through the BettyFlies Foundation (bettyflies.org), a nonprofit organization founded by her daughter, Suzanne, that funds aviation-related programs that create STEM education opportunities for young people. In 2019 this included flight-school scholarships for Aspen High School students with professional aviation aspirations as well as contributing $100,000 in matched funds to Aspen Flight Academy’s Every Student Flies program.