Isabel was born in Hanover in 1934 to pharmacist Arthur and Naomi Huehn. She was first introduced to the thrill of flying by Bill Peppler whom she married in 1957. In 1966, as the mother of three young children, she completed her Private Pilot Licence (PPL) within barely three months at nearby Port Elgin.
One could say that within weeks she took on the role of instructor for Canadian student pilots. By the end of 1966 she became publisher of From the Ground Up, the definitive textbook used to this day by virtually all Canadian pilots preparing for Transport Canada written examinations. In the early 1980s, From the Ground Up was also adopted as the primary aviation textbook in India, where it continues to be used for all flight training.
Throughout the world, From the Ground Up can be found in pilot supply shops where it finds widespread use as an authoritative aeronautical reference book. Isabel ensured that the pedigree of the textbook – an excellent work initiated by its original author, Sandy MacDonald, who developed it to train pilots during WW II – was always maintained as the core of the publication. Isabel initiated the French version, Entre Ciel et Terre.
Isabel kept abreast of technological and regulatory evolutions and integrated updates to keep From the Ground Up current. Air space classification, air traffic rules, emergency procedures, and the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) introduced in the early 1990s are just some of the topics that required integration into the textbook. Also during Isabel’s tenure, navigation technology evolved considerably, from Non Directional Beacons (NDB), Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Radial Range (VOR), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) and Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), to Microwave Landing System (MLS) and Global Positioning System (GPS). Meteorological reporting and forecasting also became more sophisticated. With Nav Canada’s introduction of METARs and TAFs, both licensed and student pilots turned to From the Ground Up for help decoding weather information.
For Isabel, these innovations weren’t simply theoretical concepts. She and her husband Bill, general manager of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (1957 – 1996), logged many trips throughout North America in their own private aircraft.
In addition to changes in aviation, the publishing industry also went through a major transformation during her 30 years as publisher. As microcomputers changed the way business was conducted, Isabel adapted her role as writer, editor and publisher to new business technologies.
Isabel was an active member of the Ninety-Nines. With cheerful efficiency, she held several offices within the Eastern Ontario chapter and also served as governor of
the East Canada Section of the Ninety-Nines. On frequent occasions, pilots enjoyed Isabel and Bill’s gracious hospitality in their Ottawa home. Those invited during the Christmas season often were treated to Isabel’s piano and vocal renditions of their favourite carols.
In addition to her contribution to aviation as editor and publisher of From the Ground Up, Isabel was one of the founders of the Ninety-Nines’ Canadian Award in Aviation and served as a trustee for the award for many years. For nearly forty years aviation museums, organizations and individuals have been given the award to fund a wide variety of projects to further public knowledge and interest in aviation.
A truly Renaissance woman, Isabel freely shared her time, energy, and outstanding business and organizational skills to the May Court Convalescent Home in Ottawa, The I.O.D.E., Home and School executive and the Advisory Committee to the National Aviation Museum.
In 1997 Isabel was presented with the Award of Excellence at National Transportation Week ceremonies, with the comment, “The fact that Canadian licensed pilots are considered the best qualified pilots of any country in the world, is worthy of recognition and can be directly related to Ms. Peppler’s contribution.”
The Isabel Peppler stamp was designed by Donald Wong whose artistic work was included in From The Ground Up during Isabel’s tenure. The stamp features a beautiful portrait of Isabel and the covers of two editions of From The Ground Up for which Isabel was responsible.
By Marilyn Dickson