“How do you know if someone’s a pilot? They’ll tell you.” 


That was the joke Diane Ballweg told at the July 21 Waunakee Rotary meeting, when she described her experience getting her pilot’s license and teaching aviation at Edgewood High School for 20 years.

When Diane’s children went off to college, she decided to learn to fly so she could visit them. She went to Morey Airport, now Middleton Airport, where she studied with Field Morey, who she said didn’t think much about women pilots. 

Still, Diane persisted. She shared with the Rotary Club the beginnings of aviation and the remarkable advances made over the years, including sending astronauts to the moon. 

The Wright brother’s first flights could travel only 180 feet in 12 seconds. The aircraft could hold only one of the brothers. And it was thought no plane would ever cross the Atlantic Ocean because no engine could operate continuously for 30 hours. 

Anyone in Wisconsin can get a pilot’s license at the age of 17, Diane would tell her students. She also stressed to them that driving a car is far more dangerous than flying because the roads carry much more traffic than the skies. 

The majority of those working in aviation as pilots, crew and in other fields of air travel are men; just 5% are women and only 4% of the pilots are women, Diane said. That’s changing, though, as the pilots who began flying during World War II continue to die off. 

Diane has a plane that she keeps in a hangar in Madison. She refers to it as the Pink Pilot Lounge, based on a moniker she got when learning to fly with Field Morey. He told her that if God had intended women to fly, he would have made the sky pink. 

From then on, Diane became known as the Pink Pilot. 

Diane hosts open houses at her hanger, where she keeps educational materials. She’s invited Girl Scout Troops and student groups there to learn about aviation. 

Diane has flown all over the world and got her African pilot’s license in South Africa. At one point, her goal was to land at 100 different airports; she’s up to 360 now. 

“It’s been a unique experience in so many ways,” she said. 




Guests: Linda Schmidt, guest of Jim Schmidt; Marty, guest of Harriet Statz; Dr. Bret Toftness, guest of Jim Elvekrog; Diane Ballweg, guest of the club; Tony Burns, guest of Paul Carderella. 


Visiting Rotarians: Shawn Fischer, Madison South. 


Birthdays: July 21, Travis Heiser; July 25, Jim Schmitz; July 26, Erick Plumb.


Anniversaries: None

Greeters: July 28, Ken Pesik and Nick Petrulis; Aug. 4, Jim Pingel and Erick Plumb; Aug. 11, Corey Randl and Thomas Roepke; Aug. 18, David Rupp and Troy Salisbury; Aug. 25, Ellen Schaaf and Todd Schmidt.