On September 1, the International Women’s Air and Space Museum (IWASM) in Cleveland, Ohio, is honoring yours truly with their Lifetime Achievement Award. And I have to say, my 37-year journey with IWASM has been an incredible one.

In 1986, I was the editor of the twice-weekly Centerville-Bellbrook Times, Centerville, Ohio. A job I absolutely loved! Two representatives from IWASM came to the newspaper to talk to me about their new museum that was opening in “MY” town. They hoped for an article about IWASM. They got it!!!


I was more than delighted. These women were members of the Ninety-Nines, the Organization of Women Pilots – founded in 1929 by my heroine Amelia Earhart and 98 other women pilots.

At age 13, I discovered Amelia between the pages of a school textbook. From that day forward I wanted to learn to fly! Now Amelia’s story and the stories of other well-known women pilots were coming to my town.  Joan Hrubec, the museum’s administrator, became a friend and a mentor.

A walking encyclopedia of women in aviation, Joan taught me well. She and the many other women pilots who came to the museum encouraged me to learn to fly. It took 20 more years, but I did it! Now I, too, am a Ninety-Nine. And I still gladly serve as an IWASM “advisor.”


That the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots flew for the USA in World War II was the government’s best kept secret. We, the generation who grew up during THE WAR, never heard about the WASP.

I left the newspaper in 1989 and Joan promptly asked me to be IWASM’s PR person. My first assignment: write an article about Nadine Nagle, our local Dayton Ohio WASP. Nadine was a joy to know! She and I remained close friends until her death in 2018 – just shy of her 100th birthday. Nadine and Joan opened up to me what became my new mission in life – to let the world know who the WASP were and what they did for their country in WWII.

Nancy Batson Crews came to IWASM in January 1992 to be part of a WASP panel discussion. From Nancy I learned about the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), the 28 women pilots who PRECEDED the WASP. Nancy Love, a stellar 1930s-era pilot, founded the WAFS in September 1942! In 1943, they became part of the WASP.


I left IWASM in 1994 to go back to school and get my master’s degree in creative writing. My ultimate goal was to write BOOKS, which became my “later in life” career. Thanks to Nancy, Nadine and Joan, when I began to write books, I chose to write about America’s women pilots – the still relatively unknown WAFS and WASP of World War II.

My first, The Originals, came from Nancy Crews’s personal request that I tell the story of Nancy Love and the WAFS. Nancy introduced me to the other surviving WAFS who added much to the story. I went on to meet and get to know many WASP. Now, I have a total of 13 WAFS/WASP books “out there.” Joan, Nadine and Nancy are directly responsible for whatever I did to earn this amazing recognition from IWASM.

Last year, Connie Luhta was the first woman to receive IWASM’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Connie is a friend, a longtime IWASM leader, do-er, and top notch professional pilot! Take it from me, if anyone deserves this award, it is Connie. I am in very good company!

Here is the announcement/invitation from IWASM that went out July 19:

For Immediate Release: Corks on the Concourse returns to the International Women’s Air & Space Museum

The International Women’s Air & Space Museum (IWASM) will host its popular event, Corks on the Concourse (Corks) Friday, September 1, 2023, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Happening the night before the official start of Cleveland National Air Show weekend, Corks invites community members to this engaging, community event which provides crucial support to IWASM’s work to preserve, educate and inspire our communities about the role of women in all areas of air and space.

Guests can expect to engage in an exclusive wine-tasting experience featuring Ohio-based wineries. Test their trivia knowledge with special lightning round prizes, and join us as we honor our 2nd Annual Lifetime Achievement Award winner, historian, author, mentor, women in WWII aviation advocate, and pilot Sarah Byrn Rickman. IWASM will also welcome back two fellow women-owned businesses, The Energy Producer Jaime Kravitz and Karen King Catering. Towards the end of the evening, baskets and one-of-a-kind experiences will be up for bidding in the silent auction.


Corks is an opportunity to ensure the International Women’s Air & Space Museum continues to strengthen Cleveland and Northeast Ohio’s cultural heritage tourism industry and serve our communities through educational programming for years to come.

Tickets are required. Tickets are $80 for non-members or $70 for IWASM members. IWASM is offering a special bundle for discounted tickets with the purchase of a one-year membership for $120. All in-person tickets include a commemorative wine glass and wine samples. Also offered are $55 Designated Driver (non-alcoholic) and $25 Virtual tickets.

Tickets may be purchased online on the Events page at or by calling 216-623-1111. The deadline to RSVP is August 30, 2023. For more information, call the museum or email

IWASM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit museum with the mission to preserve, educate, and inspire its communities about the history and culture of women in all areas of aviation and aerospace. Located inside Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport, exhibits are free of charge seven days a week from 8-8:00, offering guided tours and programs by appointment. For more information, visit or call 216-623-1111.

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  1. Sarah,
    Congratulations, lady! What an incredible honor. You’ve worked hard to get these women pilots’ stories out there and I’m sure girls everywhere will think twice about what they could do thanks to these gals. Thanks to you, their stories will stay with us!

  2. congrats Sarah from the L Matsons (Lyle and Lenorann) in Indianapolis – about 15 minutes from son Lance (Jennirfer) plus 2 hours from daughter Lois (John Reed). Keep wrting!

    1. Many thanks!!! And I’m still writing!!!
      Chuck is going to go to Cleveland with me to “celebrate!” Hopefully my 3 nephews — one in Van Wert, the other two in Detroit –can make it to Cleveland and help make it a family affair!!!

      I’m truly honored!!!

      My love to you both and the kids!!!

      Sarah R

      1. Congratulations Sarah!! I am proud and happy to know you as a special author and friend! Have a great time at the event!!
        Mary Ormond

  3. Congratulations!!!! So delighted for you and so well deserved! You have come so far since the days of the Dayton Committee. Glad I was there at the start -it has been an amazing ride.

    1. And an amazing ride it has been. I’ve loved every minute of it!!! And … have two books in the work stage at this point. My long-avoided memoir (we’ll see … I don’t like writing about myself) and one on the AWTAR/Powder Puff Derby, 1947-1977. We’ll see how it goes as well.

      Very different from writing about the WAFS & WASP!!!

      Thanks Judith!!!!!

  4. Congratulations Sarah! It is wonderful to know such an accomplished author. I’m glad to know you are still writing and you’re challenging yourself with a new topic.

  5. Congratulations, Sarah. You have done so much to preserve these important her-stories! Thank you for the oral histories, the dedication to the women flyers of World War II, and your writing. Looking forward to seeing you in Cleveland.

  6. Sarah, sorry to be so late sending my congratulations – what an honor – you have earned it. I have quite a collection of your books and have read and enjoyed every one of them. Hold the next one for me and looking forward to reading your memoir.

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