On April 26, Columbia College presented its Distinguished Alumni Award for 2013 to Grand County resident, Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D. Dr. Hamilton was selected for this honor based on her regional and national recognition in the field of aviation education — with particular emphasis on teaching women to fly — and for her many other achievements. With her husband, Bill, she co-holds a world aviation speed recognized by the National Aeronautic Association and the International Federation of Aeronautics. In 2011, Dr. Hamilton was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.
Dr. Hamilton is the author of two history books centered in Grand County and is the co-author, with her husband, of a series of espionage novels. In 2012, she received the National State Aviation Officials National Journalism Award. Earlier, she was named an KMGH-TV (Denver) 7 Every Day Hero, received the Colorado Association of Realtors Good Neighbor Award, and given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Greater Granby Area Chamber of Commerce. For her many achievements in aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration named an aerial intersection over Tabernash in her honor. She earned a B.A. degree from Columbia College in 1976 and went on to earn a Master’s and a Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.