The Karen Johnson Solo Scholarship

For Young Women Who Want to Learn to Fly

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About Karen Johnson

Karen Lee Johnson


Karen Lee Johnson, of Camarillo, California, perished on January 2, 2013, while pursuing her life's passion: flying.  Born in Murray, Kentucky on August 5, 1950 to Dolphus Phelps and Bernice Barnett Phelps, she moved to California at the age of eighteen.

Always kind, energetic, and gracious, Karen’s wit, elegant manner, and dedication to learning contributed to her success as a gifted editor, accomplished chef, highly trained helicopter pilot, and avid horsewoman. 

Affiliated with several aviation-related organizations, Karen had previously served as Secretary for the Whirly-Girls and had held every position on the board of the Ventura County Ninety-Nines.  She was serving as chapter chair when she perished flying frost control in Delano, California.  In 2012 she was elected Ventura County Ninety-Nines Woman Pilot of the Year.  Holding both rotorcraft and fixed-wing commercial certifications, and a multi-engine rating, she was employed as a co-pilot on a Cessna Citation CJ3 Jet and as a charter pilot for San Joaquin Helicopters.  Always working toward a new goal, she was training to become an on-camera stunt pilot in the motion-picture industry.  All told, she enjoyed 1,684 hours in the air, 1,275 in a helicopter and 409 in fixed-wing aircraft.

With an innate ability to identify and tap into people’s inner riches, Karen will always be a role model and hero to those she left behind.

Ventura County Ninety-Nines