2010 Women of Distinction: Nan Gaylord

Nan Gaylord, owner and president of Aviation Ground Schools Inc. dba Nan Enterprises

Tulsa Business Staff

While being a female in a male-dominated industry has presented challenges, Nan Gaylord has turned those challenges into triumphs.
“When I began in this aviation field in 1971, only 3 percent of the pilots were females,” she said. “Today, a full 15 percent are females. We are gaining on them.”

The owner and president of Tulsa-based Aviation Ground Schools Inc., the corporate umbrella for Nan Enterprises, a DBA involved in aviation industry training activities, Gaylord has been a modern pioneer for women in aviation.

In 1973, the year after she moved to Tulsa, Gaylord helped launch Ross Accelerated Ground Schools Inc.

In 1977, she won the 30th and final Powder Puff Derby, an all women’s transcontinental air race — that year from Palm Springs, Calif., to Tampa, Fla.

“I am in the Smithsonian Institute for that,” she said.

Gaylord is an FAA-designated pilot examiner, an FAA Gold Seal flight instructor, an NAFI master flight instructor, the 2004 Aviator of the Year for Oklahoma Aviator and owner of all pilot certificates and ratings issued by Ross School of Aviation.

A baccalaureate graduate of Kent State University, she is working on her master’s in aviation from Oklahoma State University.

“In aviation, you can’t ever arrive,” Gaylord said. “There is no way to ever achieve everything, so the lure of always having to learn in order to stay up with the technology was and still is enticing.

“The people are awesome — risk takers, high achievers, individualists, perfectionists, exciting,” she said. “The rewards of being able to teach, mentor, inspire and impact the next generation of pilots are incomparable.”

She has been involved in numerous aviation organizations, including the Tulsa Air and Space Museum board of directors; Spartan College of Aeronautics advisory board; The Ninety-Nines Inc., an international organization of women pilots, in which she has held all offices; the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; the National Association of Flight Instructors; and the Society of Aviation Flight Educators.

Gaylord said, even as a world traveler, she thinks Tulsa is “absolutely the best of the best.”

And she believes those opportunities are open to all women.

“There is absolutely nothing you cannot achieve,” Gaylord said. “It

requires the 4 Ds: desire, dedication, determination and discipline.”