NGPA Club Soars in Palm Springs

Members of National Gay Pilots Association Enjoy the Sun and the Outreach

During the weekend of Feb. 7th, 2020, students of the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) club traveled to sunny Palm Springs, Calif. to attend the 2020 Palm Springs Winter Warm-Up and the NGPA Industry Expo. This event was held by the NGPA and presented by United Airlines. The NGPA’s mission is to “Build, Support, and Unite the LGBTQ aviation community worldwide.”

Emerging in the 1990s, NGPA continues to focus on promoting those interested in aviation, encouraging them to begin their careers, and providing a community for outreach and networking. Every year they host events such as the Cape Cod Classic, the Winter Warm-Up, and the NGPA Industry Expo, for thousands working in the aviation industry and those who have a passion for it.

One of the students who attended, Rusty Neitzel, met Erika Delong who is a 737 First Officer at United and Kelly Lepley, a United Postal Service (UPS) Captain, who both identify as transgender women. Immediately she was inspired by the path they set for themselves and obstacles taken head-on, saying “they made the impossible happen when no one ever thought aviation would allow gay pilots, let alone transgender pilots. Erika and Kelly showed that if you put your mind to it and work hard, anything is possible.”

There were hundreds of Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) qualified pilots at the Expo in search of employment, general aviation pilots interested in newly released services and products, keynote speakers, educational seminars for all levels of pilots, and aspiring aviators seeking flight schools to begin their careers. For those interested in attending the event next year, it is scheduled to be Feb.4th-7th of 2021, so contact the NGPA club, the current chapter President being Shannon Burns, or get more information from the NGPA website. 

Photos submitted by Rusty Neitzel

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