Women In Aviation International Receives Gift From Aviation Pioneer


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Women In Aviation International Receives Gift From Aviation Pioneer

By Mike Mitchell

June 3, 2010 - Women in Aviation, International (WAI) announced on Wednesday that the organization has received a bequest of approximately $203,000 from the estate of Arlene Elliott who passed away in January 2010. This is the single, largest bequest ever received by WAI.

Along with her husband Herb, Arlene Elliott founded Elliott Aviation in 1936 which today has more than 250 employees in seven states.

Elliott Aviation co-founder Arlene Elliott, surrounded by family, died in Naples, Fla. on Sunday, January 17, 2010 at the age of 91. Mrs. Elliott was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Herb Elliott, with whom she co-founded Elliott Aviation in 1936.

She is survived by her daughter Pam Doherty and son-in-law Dick Doherty of Crystal Lake, Ill., son Wynn and daughter-in-law Sara Elliott, of Bettendorf, Iowa, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Aviation Pioneer Arlene Elliott  


Born in Plainview, Iowa on September 5, 1918, Arlene Stoltenberg met her future husband, Herb Elliott, at Davenport (Iowa) High School in 1933 and the two were wed in 1939. Herb Elliott founded Elliott Flying Service at Cram Field in Davenport in 1936. Arlene worked full-time as secretary to the president of Victor Animatograph (manufacturers of the original ?home/office movie projector?) in Davenport and kept the Elliott Flying Service books, paying bills for Herb part time.

A pilot in her own right (she soloed in a Piper Cub in 1936), Arlene instead chose to focus on promoting general aviation, and is widely credited with persuading banks to finance purchases of business aircraft, which enabled a broader range of entrepreneurs to gain access to these powerful business tools. She also served as the primary financial officer for Elliott Aviation for much of her career and treasurer on the Elliott Aviation Board of Directors.


In recognition of her more than 60 years in the industry, in 1999 Arlene was inducted into the Women In Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame. The Elliotts? passion for aviation enabled the company to grow from humble beginnings to nationally recognized prominence as a full-service business aircraft sales and technical services company with facilities and dealerships in the Quad Cities, Des Moines, Iowa, Minneapolis, Minn., and Omaha, Neb.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Arlene and Herb moved to Bonham, Texas where Mr. Elliott served as a Civilian Flight Instructor for the Army Air Corps, and later volunteered for duty with the U.S. Air Force, Fifth Ferry Command, in Dallas, Texas. The couple and baby daughter Pam returned to the Quad Cities in October 1945, and Arlene joined Elliott Flying Service as full-time bookkeeper, receptionist and scheduler, in 1946.

The company was one of the original independent Beech dealerships, and in 1977, Beech Aircraft Corporation renamed its ?Man of the Year? award to ?Team of the Year,? and gave the award to both Herb and Arlene, who are listed in the Beechcraft Hall of Fame. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) recognized the Elliotts with the Distinguished Service Award in 1989, and the William A. ?Bill? Ong Memorial Award in 2001.

In 1974, Arlene was appointed to the Board of Directors of the First Trust & Savings Bank (now US Bank) in Davenport, becoming the first female board member of any Quad City area bank, and served as a member of the board for more than 20 years. She also served as board secretary for the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend in the 1990s. Herb and Arlene also were inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame, and were members of many aviation, business, and civic organizations.  Mr. Elliott passed away in 2005 at the age of 90.

"This bequest to our organization will be used to further the work of WAI to provide opportunities for women and men seeking careers in aviation," said WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. "Through the gift she has provided, Arlene's strong spirit will live on through the individuals who will directly benefit from her generosity. We are thankful to Arlene and Herb for remembering WAI in their trust."

At the time of her passing, Arlene's son, Wynn Elliott, President and Chief Executive Officer of Elliott Aviation said, "My mom was a loving wife, and a wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. But more than that, she was truly an aviation pioneer and one of the first great women in the industry."

Women in Aviation, International is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization dedicated to providing networking, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for women and men who are striving for challenging and fulfilling careers in the aviation and aerospace industries.
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