Rosella Bjornson Scholarship Recipients


MB 99s Rosella Bjornson Flying Scholarship

Rosella Bjornson learned to fly at the Air West Flight School in Lethbridge in 1964 and began her aviation career as a flight instructor for the Winnipeg Flying Club. At that time Rosella founded the Manitoba Chapter of the 99s “to promote awareness of the wide variety of aviation disciplines and to provide support and fellowship to women pilots.

In 1973 Rosella Bjornson`s flew a Fokker F-28 for Transair, from Thompson to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and becoming the first woman airline pilot in North America. Rosella Bjornson is also the first woman member of the Canadian Airline Pilots Association. In 1990, Rosella was promoted to Captain with Canadian Airlines International, she became the first Canadian woman to hold the rank of Captain. Captain Bjornson retired flying from Air Canada and Zip in 2004 and continues to inspire women to reach for the stars.

The Rosella Bjornson Flying Scholarship was created in 1979 by the MB Chapter of the 99s. This scholarship was named after Rosella in honour of her role as founding member of the chapter, commitment to inspiring other women, and her leadership in paving the way for future generations of woman pilots. Rosella accomplished this at a time when women were not welcomed by many on the flight deck, in the control tower, nor in the maintenance hangar. Thanks to Friends of the 99s who supported Rosella and the women who followed her during those challenging days and to all the men and women who support and promote women in all aviation-related disciplines today. In Manitoba, working together with the local aviation industry, the Manitoba 99s are making significant inroads to increasing the percentage of women from less than 6% women pilots to 25% women flying for some local air carriers!

Scholarship funds are raised through the generous and much appreciated support of the recreational and commercial aviation community through donations, Poker Derbies, Calendar and T-Shirt Sales, Career symposiums, renting out igloos, and more recently the first airshow organized by the 99s worldwide.

Scholarship Chair Beth Candish presented the awards initially, followed by Cindy Glover, Mary Lou Milhausen and Bette Holtman. More recently Heather Rozmus has presented this prestigious award to active members of the Manitoba 99s and International 99s at the Manitoba Aviation Council Symposium in March of each year.

The following members of the Manitoba Chapter of the Ninety Nines received the Rosella Bjornson Flying Scholarship and have shared what it meant to them at that time, how they used the funds, and how their career evolved. Thank you Rosella and congratulations recipients!!

Applications for this year`s competition are available on this web site and due January 15th. Women pilots with a strong commitment volunteering to inspiring and promote women aviators are encouraged to apply.

Please email if you have updated information for any of these recipients, thank you!


1979 Brenda Mehmel

“Receiving the Bjornson scholarship meant I could continue to work towards pursuing my dream of becoming an airline pilot. I used the funds to complete my CPL then went on to obtain my Class IV Instructors rating. In 1981 I went to the University of North Dakota’s aviation program. I obtained my American CPL and was only a few hours short of getting my IFR rating. In 1985/1986 I had an internship with FEDEX in Memphis, TN working in Flight Coordination. In 1987 I graduated with my BBA in Airport Administration. I currently work as an Airport Duty Manager at the Edmonton International Airport. I have been involved in aviation since the age of 15, obtaining my private pilot’s license at age 16. Even though I didn’t reach my life-long dream of being an airline pilot, I am thrilled that I got to work in the aviation industry. I am so thankful to women like Rosella that burst the skies wide open and paved the way for others to follow. These women are so inspiring, and the support they provide for other women is what makes all the difference in giving them the same opportunity to obtain their dreams of a career as a pilot.” Brenda Mahmel

1980 Susan Ivanhoe

1981 Diane Best 

1982 Sandra Anderson

1983 Karen Bandorf 

1984 Janice Cannell

“The scholarship was used to further my training in aerobatics. I went into partnership to fly our own decathlon for a few years. This was a very satisfying recreational sport.” Janice Cannell

1986 Juanita Cousins

“Taking on the challenge of flying and achieving a Private Pilot’s licence, night rating and Float endorsement was quite an personal accomplishment for myself. Being part of the 99’s certainly helped me keep up the momentum and the love of flying for many years.” Juanita Cousins

1987 Rani Tolton (Singh)

Rani earned her Degree in Medicine, is now married, and has a family practise in Brockville, Ontario. She continues to fly for recreation.  Rani Tolton (nee Singh)

1988 Maryam Murat Khan

1989 Mary Lou Milhausen 

“Receiving the 99’s Scholarship was a good shot of encouragement to keep working on more advanced flight training.  I completed my night endorsement and went on to a commercial and instructor rating.” Mary Lou Milhausen

1991 Lorraine Schmidt – Lorraine is now a Captain for Air Canada based in YVR.

1993 Cindy Jensen (Glover)

“I used the Rosella Bjornson Scholarship towards my float endorsement.  I was hired by Air Canada in 1998 and am now a First Officer on the Airbus 320 based in YWG.” Cindy Glover (nee Jensen)

1994 Maureen Dennie 

1995 Dana Kupchuk (Chepil) 

1996 Sherri Kantymir 

Sherri flew commercially in northwest Ontario and now lives near Thunder Bay. Sherri Appleton (nee Kantymir)

1999 Jeanine Giguere

Jeanine is now working as Transport Canada Civil Aviation Safety Inspector.

2000 Daphne Boothe

Daphne has her Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, ATPL, and since the mid-1990s has worked for the Transportation Safety Board. “This scholarship helped me complete my commercial licence training. I went on to fly for a commuter operator before joining the Transportation Safety Board as a regional investigator. I am currently the Atlantic regional manager.” Daphne Boothe

2001 Stephanie Zaharie 

2002 Heather Paddock (Rozmus) 

“Receiving the Bjornson Scholarship gave me confidence, I used it to complete my commercial licence and am now First Officer on the Airbus A320 for Air Canada, based in YWG.” Heather Paddock (nee Rozmus)

2003 Cindy Savoie Good  

“I earned my commercial multi IFR license and rating while being a single mom. I couldn’t have done it without the help of other women in aviation, especially Rosella Bjornson in being awarded her scholarship. It helped keep me focused on my goal when things were tough. Although I ultimately ended up in a non-aviation career due to my family situation, the determination and strength it took to reach my flying goals has carried forward in all aspects of my life. I wouldn’t be the confident woman I am today if it weren’t for the amazing women I met during my training!” Cindy Savoie Good

2004 Tanya Kletke

“… I am now completing my training with Sky Regional!” Tanya Cole (nee Kletke)

2005 Anne Reimer

Anne used the funds from the MB 99s’ Rosella Bjornson Scholarship to complete her training at Harv’s Air while studying at Steinbach Bible College. She worked at Harv’s Air and then moved to Fort Vermillion, Alberta, where she continued her training and became a Medivac Pilot until losing her battle with Sarcoma breast cancer.

2006 Leah M. Brunger – Leah is now an Instructor Red River College

2007 Heather Shoniski 

2008 Katherine Weber

Katherine used the Rosella Bjornson Scholarship money and MB 99s Western Canada funding to complete her commercial licence in 2008.

2010 Adelinde Grober

“The Bjornson scholarship allowed me to complete my Sea Plane rating which advanced my flying skills, and to build valuable flying hours; but most importantly, it allowed me to network with some incredible women in the aviation industry. My experiences in aviation invoked in me a desire to always challenge myself.  I completed a degree majoring in Criminal Justice and soon afterwards became a constable with the Winnipeg Police Service.  My dream is to eventually combine two extremely rewarding and challenging careers; aviation and law enforcement.”

2011 Allyson Jeffrey

“…I just passed my ATPL and am now Captain for Perimeter Air!”

2012 O`Danis Fast

“I was so inspired after winning the MB 99s’ Bjornson Scholarship, it was incredible to be introduced to a world of encouraging girls and women who share my passion for aviation. The picture is of me and my dad – Me learning how to fly floats on my Dad’s Piper super cub.” O’Danis Fast   O’Danis has completed her Commercial Licence and is now working on her Multi IFR.

2013 Paulette Klassen

“I am so grateful to have received the 2013 Rosella Bjornson Flying Scholarship Award. Having learned to fly in my late fifties, it was not my intent to pursue a career in aviation… A life-long dream come true, these funds were put towards obtaining my night rating. I fly for the absolute pleasure of it and I love to encourage young women to consider aviation as a career choice. Many thanks to Rosella for the inspiration she continues to be for women, young and not so young, all around the world!” Paulette Klassen    Paulette is now the owner of Mobile Air Service Inc., St. Andrews Airport, Manitoba

2014 Amy Johnson

“I was honored to be the recipient of the 2014 Rosella Bjornson scholarship. The funds I received helped me finish my commercial license, which led to my current position as a flight instructor with Harv’s Air Service. My passion for flying has also migrated into the agricultural world. During the summer months I fly off our farm strip as an aerial applicator and I really enjoy being able to combine these two different types of flying.” Amy Johnson

2015 Karolina Utko

“By receiving the Rosella Bjornson Scholarship in 2015 I was able to finish my CPL Now I am flying for Fast Air as a First Officer on a King Air 200!” Karolina Utko

2016 Jenna Johannsen

“In June I graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a major in Geography. With the generous support and recognition of the Rosella Bjornson Scholarship funds (2016) and 99s Western Section funds (2014), I have been able to complete my night rating and continue to work towards the CPL. I’m now working as a Flight Dispatcher at Fast Air. I’m very grateful to have inspiring women like Rosella to look up to.” Jenna Johannsen

2017 Jessica Fichtner

“I am very honoured to have been selected for the 2017 Rosella Bjornson Scholarship!  Since earning my PPL I have always wanted to learn to fly at night.  This scholarship will allow me to get my night rating so I can fly more often in the winter as well!  I plan to start my night rating in the Fall once the daylight hours get shorter.  Thank you to the MB 99s for helping me to advance my flying training. ” Jessica Fichtner


updated May 8, 2017