Above: The 8th Annual Helicopter Association of America (HAA) Convention, San Francisco, California, January 1956 (HAI Archives)
In 1955, Elynor Rudnick of Kern Copters was elected the first female president of what would become Helicopter Association International (HAI). She was also the first licensed female helicopter pilot in the United States.
In the early years of World War II, she dreamed of joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). But the WASPs were disbanded before Rudnick could move up the waiting list of women interested in joining the organization.
At the age of 22, Rudnick opened what became known as “Elynor Rudnick’s Bakersfield Air Park” in Bakersfield, California. She offered flight training, hangars, airport services, and a restaurant. The week of the airport’s opening, The Bakersfield Californian said Rudnick “represents feminine initiative in aviation development and has the courage to match her dreams.” In 1948, she trained a group of fighter pilots who would become the first Israeli Air Force.
Rudnick founded Kern Copters with Bob Facer. She also ran Rudnick Helicopters in New Zealand. She was one of the original 16 people who, in 1948, established the Helicopter Council, which eventually became HAI.
Countdown to HAI’s 75th anniversary: 64 days!