Nelda Lee ’69

A pioneer of women in aviation and aerospace engineering

Nelda Lee photo

Nelda Lee is a pioneer in women’s aviation history, responsible for flight and ground test engineering for the four military aircraft manufactured by Boeing, including the F-15 Eagle, AV-8 Harrier, T-45 Goshawk and F/A-18 Hornet. She is the level-two manager for test and evaluation personnel located in St. Louis and at the military test sites at China Lake, Calif.; Patuxent River, Md.; and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Lee has been an employee with McDonnell Douglas Corp., now Boeing, for 44 years. A highlight of her career with McDonnell Douglas was being the first woman to log 1.5 hours of flight time in the F-15 Eagle. In addition to her career with Boeing, Lee also enjoys aviation in her free time and is a licensed commercial pilot with instrument, multi-engine and helicopter ratings. She previously served as international president of Whirly-Girls Inc. and was recipient of the 10th annual Doris Mullen Whirly-Girls Scholarship. Lee is charter member No. 15 of Women in Aviation International and currently serves on the organization’s board of directors. A life member of the Society of Flight Test Engineers and the Auburn Alumni Association, she has served both St. Louis Auburn Alumni Clubs as president. Lee was inducted into the International Women in Aviation Pioneer Half of Fame in 2004, received the Whirly-Girls Livingston Award in 2001 and was awarded the 2010 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association. In 1969, Lee became the second woman to earn an aerospace engineering degree from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Lee currently lives in Ballwin, Mo.