The Heroines

Elisabeth E. Dicken

is honored with a Brick from AERO Kansas, C/O Maribeth C. Yarnell

 Elisabeth E. Dicken Elisabeth E. Dicken Legacy of a Leader:

Elisabeth E. (Holmes) Dicken
Betty Dicken was a devoted friend, wise counselor, and dynamic leader.

Her vocation was teacher, as was her passion.

Her passion for aerospace education was contagious, and her passion for seeing success among her students was only surpassed by her compassion for those who struggled a little longer and a little harder to really "get it."

Betty Dicken contributed a lifetime of leadership to her primary volunteer organization, the Civil Air Patrol, where she was known as Lt.Col. Elisabeth E. Dicken. She was promoted to Lt.Col. In 1972, having moved through the ranks from senior member, second and first lieutenant, captain, major, to Lt.Col in less than 10 years.

Civil Air Patrol is a civilian organization designated by Congress as the official auxiliary of the US Air Force. CAP (for short) has three primary missions:

Emergency Services - responding to community needs as requested by the Air Force, or by local and Federal Emergency Management and law enforcement. Some have only heard of CAP for their Search and Rescue efforts when an aircraft is missing.

CAP Cadet Programs - helps establish youth in a pattern of personal responsibility and offers numerous rewards, especially for those who become interested in aviation or in military service.

and Aerospace Education - with a mandate to educate the American public about the value of aviation, air power, and space exploration.

Aerospace education provided a catalyst for Betty's zeal. The lady who joined CAP thinking she might get the opportunity to learn to fly a plane herself, spent almost 40 years serving those have become pilots, and other achievers, because of her commitment.

Betty's first flights were the Civil Air Patrol's own C-47s, affectionately known as the Gooney Bird by the military, and a DC-3 to civilians. In her various military airlifts, Betty was often invited into the cockpit.

Before joining Wing (state-level) staff of Civil Air Patrol, Betty had been a unit (squadron) commander, but she saw how she could affect more people in a positive way by working at Wing staff level.

US Air Force LtCol Monte Judkins, the Tennessee Wing Liason Officer who greets us from a signed photo with his SR-71 Blackbird, nominated Betty for the prestigious national Crown Circle Award.

From his effort we receive an overview of her CAP career to 1986:

That she attended practically every National Conference on Aviation and Space Education since 1957, and during one Congress, was recognized with the award of A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year.

As a charter member of the World Aerospace Educatoin Organization (WAEO) she attended 3 of the 5 international conferences: in Egypt, Washington DC, and Singapore.

Betty was a charter member of the North Central Region Aerospace Education Association, and received a special salute in ( for her achievements in coordinating university AE workshops for teachers in Kansas. According to the report, "Kansas has been rated number 2 and 3 in the nation in .. AE ," and "Betty's record of achievement is to be envied."

In 1996 Betty was appointed to the CAP's National Committee on AE .

Attachments to this nomination include a formal letter, on KDOT letterhead, from the then Kansas State Director of Aviation, George M. Boyd, wherein he expounded on Betty's contributions to the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education and the Kansas Department of Education.

This communication was dated 1986, and Betty continued to be a staunch leader in KCAE (commission) until she was diagnosed with disease.

Through the commission, Betty was involved with the establishment of the Kansas Aviation Museum, spawned by the Wichita Aeronautical Historical Association, and she served on committees to establish the guidelines for the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame and the Governors Honors Awards to recognize Kansas' Aviation leaders and pioneers. She also served on committees to establish the Kansas Aviation Museum's Aerospace Educator of the Year Teacher Award, and was honored with the award herself in the early 1990's. At the request of KAM, Betty led committee work to later refine the application requirements.

KCAE commission members include teachers from around Kansas, K-12 through university professors, aviation company reps for education, FAA educational representatives, Civil Air Patrol representatives, flight school representatives, and members of interested aviation and educational organizations and companies. Betty served the commission as President from 1999 through 2001, filling an unexpired term, then her own term was interrupted. During this time she accomplished a number of goals designed to reinvigorate the commission and to bring aerospace education workshops into line with educational technology.

(With a BS from Ft Hays State, and a Masters from WSU, in the course of 74 hours beyond her Masters degree, Betty accrued 20 hours in Aerospace Education. At that time Kansas BOE offered a certification in AE.)

Col Boyd remarks on the calibre of summer workshops for teachers at various universities around Kansas which Betty coordinated, taught, or presented. He addresses additional marketing efforts, calling Betty "an ambassador of excellence in aerospace education, and an outstanding member of the commission."

Col Boyd also comments that she provided guidance concerning aviation education to Kansas' Aviation Advisory Committee both as a member of Civil Air Patrol, and as a private citizen, and refers to Betty as a person who has dedicated her life to excellence in education.

Col Boyd is now the Kansas Wing Commander of Civil Air Patrol.

Dr. George Hudiburg, then Director of Aerospace Ed at Pittsburgh State University in Pittsburgh KS, calls Betty the prime mover of AE in the state for over 25 years. He says, "Betty has through the years been a positive and optimistic place to look for help and leadership..."

Dr. Maurice Witten, then Chairman of the Physics Dept at Fort Hays State comments on Betty's enthusiastic and tireless efforts in support of the university's summer AE programs, stressing the coordination efforts including arranging for NASA personell to present at workshops, providing take home activities for the classroom teachers, and arranging Aerospace Education military airlifts for participants.

Workshop participants could get orientation flights in KC-135s, and CAP Educator members could get airlift to the CAP's National Conference on Aviation and Space Education in a C-130 Hercules (the guy with the big "back door" that they dropped the elephant from in the movie "Dumbo Drop."

Dr. Witten, himself a pilot and CAP member, also reports on Betty's outreach efforts, at airshows, Kansas Day in Topeka, and any other appropriate occasion.

Edward Foster, Professor of Education at Southwestern College, calls Betty a "real pioneer" of Aerospace Education, and applauds her development of a library of aerospace films, pamphlets, video tapes, and references for all interested teachers throughout the state of Kansas.

He also points out that Betty has been the liaison person for the Kansas Wing with the USAF liason officer at McConnell AFB.

Remarkably, in addition to her assignments in Aerospace Education and Senior Training, Betty maintained her status as fully qualified in emergency services throughout her CAP career.

I have trailed behind as Betty stayed up late being sure that mission-critical items were ready for the first early morning sortie of a training mission; then get up at 4:30 to be on point as the administrative check-in. Her stamina into her eighties was incredible.

During Col Tim Hansen's tenure as Wing Commander, he often felt moved to thank Betty for her untiring effort and support, including a hand written note along with an "ATTA-BOY" certificate.

Betty also worked with cadet encampments, week or two-week long training exercises, and especially enjoyed the rocketry programs.

She worked with the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE), an annual exchange of visits by air-minded youth of the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and the Pacific . For the past 52 years, Civil Air Patrol cadets have participated in this international exchange, designed to foster understanding, good will and friendship among the world's youth who share an interest in aviation. Lt Col Elisabeth Dicken's Legacy for Aerospace Education will be producing ongoing results for generations to come, which will not lessen the sense of loss for those of us who were energized by her enthusiasm, leadership, and knowledge.