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Capt. Nicole Jansen-Hinnenkamp displays her Amelia Earhart award with the Zonta Club of Savannah, Jan. 30. Jansen-Hinnenkamp has deployed twice as a weapon systems officer and is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Photo by Cpl. Sarah Cherry

Flying High: Fightertown Marine receives Amelia Earhart Award

7 Feb 2014 | Cpl. Sarah Cherry

The Zonta Club of Savannah, Ga., honored Capt. Nicole Jansen-Hinnenkamp of Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 with the Amelia Earhart Woman in Aviation award, Jan. 30.

Zonta is a global organization working to "advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy," according to the website.

"The Amelia Earhart Fellowship is Zonta’s flagship program," said Jo Carol Martin, president of the Zonta Club of Savannah. "That was our first award program, and we still maintain that effort after 75 years."

Zonta’s Amelia Earhart Fellowship program was established in honor of Amelia Earhart, who was a member of Zonta and renowned aviator.

Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as a passenger, fly across the Atlantic alone, fly from Hawaii to the mainland, and receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross.

Jansen-Hinnenkamp received the Amelia Earhart Award as one of the few female aviators serving at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. She is trained as a weapons system officer, and deployed twice with Marine All-weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224. She was with VMFA(AW)-224 for three years, and now serves in Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 as the assistant operations officer.

"I was lucky enough to be in a squadron with a history of female aviators before me," said Jansen-Hinnenkamp.

Jansen-Hinnenkamp joined the military to fly. She remembers the exhilaration of her first plane flight.

"I still remember my excitement as the aircraft was taxiing on a frigid, cold winter day in Minneapolis," said Jansen-Hinnenkamp. "I wasn’t sure what to expect, but a few minutes later I was elated. I was flying. From the day of my first flight on, I was fascinated with airplanes."

That fascination with flight led her to a private pilot license, the Navy, and eventually to the Marine Corps.

"Being a woman in this male dominated career has made me realize that I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be," she said. "It’s an honor to be recognized by the Zonta Club and receive the Amelia Earhart award. It is through our stories as women that we can help other women succeed and realize their potential."