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Monterey Bay Ninety-Nines


"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things."

Elinor Smith



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Helen Shropshire

Sadly we have to report the loss of our Monterey Bay charter member, Helen Shropshire. Helen passed away December 17, 2001 in Monterey CA.

During WWII, Helen managed the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club where the Crosby Golf Tournament was originally held. After the war, Helen and Frank moved to the Monterey peninsula and it was at that time Helen suggested the Crosby be held locally in Pacific Grove. The rest is history. From 1947 to 1962 they were the owners of the Camera Exchange in Pacific Grove along with owning an independent motion picture business. In 1962 they founded Monarch Aviation on the Monterey Airport. It was their dealership that accepted delivery of the first Piper Comanche 180 in California. In 1970, Helen was instrumental in founding Monterey Heritage Guides in which she was Manager until her health failed.

During the time Helen and her husband owned the Camera Exchange in Pacific Grove, one of their customers was a very enthusiastic pilot by the name of Dell Hinn. Dell would always talk about her exciting adventures in flying and was the catalyst that propelled both Helen and Frank into obtaining their private pilot licenses. Helen obtained her private pilot license from Artie Clay in Monterey, California in 1956. Jack Jella was her instructor for her Multi-Engine Instrument, Commercial and Instrument ratings, respectively, in 1957, 1958 & 1959.

In 1965, Helen and Zoe Dell Nutter organized the formation of the Monterey Bay Chapter of The Ninety-Nines, sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley and Sacramento Valley Chapter. The installation of the Monterey Bay Chapter was held at Asilomar Conference Center with the Governor of the Southwest Section presiding over this event. Helen was the first chairman of the Monterey Bay Chapter of The Ninety-Nines.

A very active participant in The Ninety-Nines, Helen held every office in the Monterey Bay Chapter, as well as every office in the Southwest Section, with the exception of Governor. Helen enjoyed the competition of air racing and entered several of the Powder Puff Derby / All Women Transcontinental Air Races. She and her partner placed 2nd in 1972. Helen also received much recognition for chairing a Monterey County Air Tour for government officials. Helen was 1967 Pilot of the Year for our chapter.

One of her most memorable flights occurred while producing a movie for the Guatemalan Tourist Bureau. While in their country, she had the opportunity to photograph the inside of a volcano from a bomber with the bomb bay doors open and not strapped in. The bomber had been purchased from the United States by Guatemala for $1.00, and was co-piloted by her husband Frank. Helen filmed the inside of the volcano while lying on her stomach. Her fascination for the inside of volcanoes brought her into the Crater of the Sun (Haleakala) in Hawaii, once again, for aerial photographs.

Along with flying, Helen was very active in the community. She was Executive Director of the Miss Monterey County Pageant 1959-1962. She was the recipient of the Gold Medal Award from the American Revolution Bicentennial California Commission 1976 as well as the Pacific Grove Award for her work on the Bi-Centennial 1976. She served as Chairman of the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition re-enactment 1974-1976, on the Republican State Central Commission Committee 1960-1962, and on the Feast of Lanterns Annual Festival in Pacific Grove in 1976.

Helen was a person who made things happen.

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