Aviation, aerospace group honors Prairieville pilot _lowres

Advocate file photo by Heather McClelland -- Janet Gonzales, manager of the Louisiana Regional Airport, received her pilot's license in 2009. She was recently inducted into the International Forest of Friendship.

Janet Gonzales, of Prairieville, was honored as a 2016 inductee into the International Forest of Friendship, in Atchison, Kansas, during ceremonies in June.

The Forest of Friendship is a living, growing memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace, a news release said. She was recognized for her support of the New Orleans Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots.

Gonzales, the manager of the Louisiana Regional Airport, said she was inspired to learn how to fly after the post-Hurricane Katrina disaster response staged at Louisiana Regional Airport. She enrolled in ground school and joined New Orleans 99s. She earned her private pilot certificate in 2009, and bought a two-seat airplane; husband, Chris Gonzales, followed in 2011.

Gonzales organized the first Women of Aviation Worldwide Week local event in 2010 and co-founded “ACE: Aviation Career Education Camp” for high school students, which earned her the Louisiana Airport Managers and Associates Presidents Award. She participates in New Orleans 99s’ education, scholarship and community service projects and co-chaired the 2014 New Orleans International Conference.

The couple bought a bigger airplane to enable them to fly charitable missions. Janet Gonzales won an Amelia Earhart Scholarship in 2015 for an instrument rating. She flew in the 2016 Air Race Classic.

The International Forest of Friendship is made up of trees representing all the 50 states and 35 countries around the world, including a “moon tree” grown from a seed taken to the moon on Apollo 14.