Prairieville pilot receives high honor

Staff Report
Janet Gonzales

Janet Gonzales, of Prairieville, was honored as a 2016 inductee into the International Forest of Friendship, a memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace, in Atchison, Kan., during a ceremony earlier this month. She was recognized for her enthusiastic support of the New Orleans Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots.

Gonzales was inspired after the post-Hurricane Katrina disaster response staged at Louisiana Regional Airport. She enrolled in ground school and joined New Orleans 99s. She earned her Private Pilot certificate in 2009, husband Chris followed in 2011, and bought a two-seat airplane.

The Ascension pilot organized the first Women of Aviation Worldwide Week local event in 2010 where Louisiana Regional placed third in most girls flown that week. The event has grown to over 100 registered attendees.

Gonzales also co-founded “ACE: Aviation Career Education Camp” for high school students which earned her the Louisiana Airport Managers & Associates Presidents Award. She participates in New Orleans 99s education, scholarship and community service projects and co-chaired the 2014 New Orleans International Conference.

Gonzales and her husband Chris bought a bigger airplane to enable them to fly charitable missions. Janet won an Amelia Earhart Scholarship in 2015 for an instrument rating. She flew in the 2016 Air Race Classic.