LaQuita J. "Keeta" Thompson grew up in Hastings, Nebraska. Her first remembrances of wanting to fly were during WWII when she watched the B-17s practice their low-level flying maneuvers over her farm. Thereafter in her bedtime dreams, she jumped from the branches of their big cottonwood tree, using her arms as the wings of an airplane. A story reminiscent of the Kansan Amelia Earhart!
After rearing four sons, Keeta's flying career began at age 46 at Scotts Bluff County Airport with a 1976 Christmas present from her husband Dick, a non-pilot. In twenty months she qualified as a private, commercial and instrument rated pilot, as well as a flight instructor. She ultimately qualified as an instructor in SEL, MEL, SES, Instrument and Glider. In 1981, Keeta earned her Airline Transport Pilot certificate, the second woman in Nebraska to obtain this rating. Three years later she was recognized as a Gold Seal Instructor by the Federal Aviation Administration.
In 1978, Keeta began her professional career at Valley Airways, serving as charter pilot and instructor. Later, she flew as a corporate pilot for Mutual of Omaha, Papas Trucking, Coca-Cola, Brown Bean Co, and Western Pathology Laboratories. Keeta was hired by the US Federal Parks System to detect and count wildlife and also served as an aerial photography pilot in Nebraska and Wyoming for National Geographic Society. She served as president of her own company, Bluff Aero, Inc. at the Scotts Bluff County Airport.
Keeta has received many awards for her contributions to aviation. In 1982, she was selected as the Central Region's "Flight Instructor of the Year." The next year, the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics presented her with an "Outstanding Service Award." In 1990, Governor Kay Orr appointed her to the Nebraska State Airline Authority Board. The following year, Governor E. Benjamin Nelson asked her to serve on the Nebraska Aeronautics Commission, the first woman to do so.
Keeta is also credited with initiating and directing a successful promotion to the Kansas City FAA for the installation of the RCO in 1992. She and William B. Heilig were instrumental in chartering EAA Chapter 608. Keeta taught semester classes of private, commercial, and instrument credit courses at Nebraska Western College, and pinch hitter courses at the airport as well as updated seminars for Civil Air Patrol pilots' search and rescue training.
LaQuita "Keeta" Thompson has logged 7,642 hours. Her contributions to the aviation industry, her public support of aviation, and her willingness to educate youth in her community are exemplary.
Back to the Hall of Fame