1-7 February 2013 #641

Broken wings

The death of Catherine “Kitty” Houghton who dedicated her life to helping women pilots around the globe has shocked Nepal’s growing community of female pilots
The death of Catherine “Kitty” Houghton this week has shocked Nepal’s growing community of women pilots who were inspired by her to set up the Nepal Section of the Ninety-Nines

Kitty was a Peace Corps volunteer in eastern Nepal in the mid 1960s, spoke fluent Nepali along with 13 other languages, and remained connected to Nepal after retirement from the US Foreign Service. She visited the country several times to support educational and other initiatives in Dhankuta, and to interact with and encourage Nepali women pilots.

The Ninety-Nines is an international organisation of women pilots and as International Membership Chair, she focused especially on women pilots from developing countries. In the last few years she had taken several initiatives to support Nepali pilots, including helping to start and mentor the Nepal Section, making a video on the members, and helping with their visits to the United States.

“Kitty Houghton was a remarkably talented and vibrant individual who touched many lives,” said 99s International president, Martha Philipps, “she had friends all over the world and the sympathy messages immediately started pouring in to the 99s. Much of the growth of the international membership of the 99s is directly attributable to Kitty. We will miss her terribly and will think of her often.”

Houghton, 70, was stabbed to death in a random attack in a New Hampshire hotel lobby on 28 January by another guest she had never met. She had travelled there from California for the board meeting of the college from which she graduated in 1960. A 37-year-old man from Vermont is in custody, but police don’t know the motive.

FLYING ANGEL: Kitty Houghton, who was a victim of a random murder in New Hampshire on Monday and seen here flying over the Sierras last year, was an enthusiastic supporter of Nepali women pilots like Capt Sabina Shrestha and First Officer Monica Prajapati at Petaluma airport in California (right)
“We are all shocked and deeply saddened by Kitty’s untimely death,” said George Varughese, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation in Nepal who frequently flew with her, “Kitty was a good friend of Nepal and a great supporter of women pilots in Nepal.”

Kitty was deeply interested in aviation safety and pilot well-being in Nepal, wanting to always connect pilots with each other, with air traffic controllers, and civil aviation authorities in order to improve the conditions for aviation in Nepal.

Monica Prajapati of the Nepal 99s who flies BAE Jetstreams for Yeti Airlines said: "She has been a great help to us when we travel abroad, connecting us to other women pilots and linking us to other 99s. She was selfless in her support and motivation. she touched so many of us in so many ways."

“Kitty will be sorely missed but never forgotten,” the Nepal Section of the Ninety-Nines said in a statement, “the women of the Nepal 99s commit to realising her vision for female pilots in Nepal.”

(Updated 5 February 2013)

A memorial service for Catherine “Kitty” Houghton will be held on Thursday Feb 7 at 7pm at The Asia Foundation office, Bhat Bhateni. Contact number: 01 441-8345

See also:

Holding up the whole sky, PAAVAN MATHEMA

All-female cockpit crews become common as more women pick piloting careers

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