Helping Dreams Take Flight

New scholarship honors legacy of mentoring young pilots.

During 47 years of recreational flying, Janet Yoder became one of the greatest advocates in Kansas for women in flight.

She mentored young female pilots and joined the Ninety-Nines, an international organization for female pilots. She also served on leadership boards for the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum and the Air Race Classic, a yearly all-female, cross-country race.

“Janet just loved to fly,” said Robin Laws, who flew the Air Race Classic with Janet’s guidance in 2006, one year before graduating from K-State. “She was not only a great pilot, but a great mentor and friend.”

“She went out of her way to include me, as a young student pilot with few connections,” added Dawn Wavle Rogers, who served as a trustee alongside Janet at the museum. “She went out of her way to make people feel cared for and involved.”

Janet passed away in 2015 after a fight with lymphoma, but her legacy lives on through the Janet Sue Yoder Aviation Scholarship for pilots in training at K-State Polytechnic.

“Everybody needs a monument,” said Janet’s husband, Don, who met Janet in the 1960s when he was a podiatrist, and she was a nurse anesthetist. He created the scholarship in Janet’s honor with cash gifts to help students now and a gift in his will to continue helping students forever.

“She was such a strong partner,” he said. “She was smarter than me, very technologically inclined and very good at everything she did. She always gave 100 percent.”

Janet earned seven different flight ratings and flew in 27 Air Race Classics. Beyond that, she encouraged dozens of women to take an interest in flying while having fun.

“She was so much fun. You always knew where Janet was because you’d hear her laugh,” said Bonnie Johnson, her Air Race Classic partner of six years. “She was an amazing woman; so giving and always willing to help people.”

Now, through the scholarship in her honor, Janet’s legacy continues to help young pilots soar.

Read more about how your gift can support Kansas State Polytechnic and advance the Innovation and Inspiration Campaign.

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