Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wingwalking women

I decided to see today what kind of information the web had on women pilots, and barnstormers, during the pioneer years.

PBS.Kids has a page on barnstormers.
In most barnstorming shows, men piloted the planes. When women participated, they most often performed stunts such as wing walking. Gladys Ingle was famous for shooting arrows at a target while standing on the top wing of a Curtiss Jenny--and for changing planes in mid-air. Georgia "Tiny" Broderick was the first woman to parachute from a plane--at 2,000 feet--in 1913. She went on to perform over 1,110 jumps.

Some women, such as ...Bess[ie] Coleman, didn't want to walk on top of airplanes--they wanted to fly them. Coleman's performance at the Chicago Checkerboard Airdome in 1922 was the first ever given by a black woman. Mabel Cody competed with men as well--by running her own flying circus. She performed stunts as well, including dancing on the wing of a flying plane. has several photos, and an interview with, a modern-day wingwalker, Margaret Stivers, as well as a few paragraphs on the pioneers:

Ethel Dare was the first woman to change planes in the air. Pretty and petite she was billed as the "1920 Aerial Sensation," the "Queen of the Air" or provocatively as "The Flying Witch." She had been a flying trapeze performer with the Barnum And Bailey Circus.

Miss Dare delighted in standing on the edge of a wing and then would suddenly fall backwards into space. A length of rope would suddenly hault her death plunge. Then she would climb back, hand over hand, to perform other stunts. Her specialty, and all of the daredevils had specialities, was the "Iron Jaw Spin." Dangling from the end of a rope with a special mouthpiece clutched between her teeth, Ethel would twirl dizzily in the plane's propwash. Up the rope she would climb for a daring series of calisthenics as the plane circled the fairgrounds. has a brief mention of Rosalie Gordon.
Obviously, it was also a dangerous pursuit. As barnstorming's popularity grew, the performances became increasingly elaborate and risky. In 1924, stuntperson Rosalie Gordon's parachute was tangled in the landing gear of a plane; she was rescued by fellow barnstormer Clyde "Upside-Down" Pangborn from the Gates Flying Circus. Most barnstorming accidents, however, ended less happily.

Readers of the forums give this info about the colors of planes in which the women flew:
Gladys Roy. Entire airframe apparently covered with exotic murals! Only thing clearly visible looks like a lion's head, but ortho film shows little detail.

Mable (sic) Cody Flying Circus. Dark fuselage and vertical tail, remainder apparently natural fabric. Illegible inscription on rudder. Polished metal cowling.

Lillian Boyer. Tinted photo shows bright green fuselage and tail, wheels in an indeterminate colour, red or orange. Any underside detail?

Gladys Ingle often worked with a Jenny shown in a painting as having blue fuselage, wheels and fin, yellow wings and tailplane, and red-white-dark blue striped rudder. No. 27 in circle on fuselage. Reproduced too small on the Internet for heraldic-style fuselage badge and white inscription across upper wing to be legible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Women in Aviation News, 3/25/08

BA's first female pilot at controls for historic T5 flight
This is Captain Lynn Barton who will make aviation history by piloting the first flight into Heathrow Terminal 5 when it opens for business on Thursday.

Her Boeing 747 - flight number BA026 - carrying 350 passengers will arrive at the £4.3billion terminal from Hong Kong at 4.50am.

Captain Barton, 51, who became British Airways' first female pilot in 1987, is "absolutely thrilled" at being chosen for the job.

She applied to operate the inaugural T5 flight last month while she was on holiday in Barbados.

"It was my husband's idea to bid for the flight but the timing meant I had to tear myself off the beach to find a computer so that I could apply for the airline's flight-bidding system," she said. "I never thought I'd be in with a chance of actually getting the flight."

She had to wait, however, until she returned to Britain to find she had won it. "I was absolutely thrilled. T5 has been the focus of the airline's future for several years now and to operate the first flight is a huge honour. I can't wait."

See link for complete article.

Women pilots: A weapon to be used

by Airman 1st Class Erica Stewart
36th Operations Group Public Affairs

3/24/2008 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) -- "This is not a time when women should be patient. We are in a war and we need to fight it with all our ability and every weapon possible. Women pilots, in this particular case, are a weapon waiting to be used," said Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States.

These words, spoken in 1942, were proven true when the Women Airforce Service Pilots were founded and played a pivotal role in World War II.

That statement again holds true today with many female Air Force pilots deploying around the world, proving to be an invaluable weapon in the war on terrorism.

See link for complete article

Women engineers inspire young people at Attleboro museum forum
ATTLEBORO -- Ten-year-old Savanna Nelson said she thinks computer animation is "cool" and something she wouldn’t mind exploring.

Nicole Choiniere, 11, a fellow student at Community School in North Attleboro, said she really liked hearing a woman’s story about her career as an engineer working on radar in connection with space and her friend, a female astronaut.

Katherine Pariseau, a freshman at Bishop Feehan, is pondering engineering as a career, possibly computer or mechanical engineering.

The young women were among roughly 40 people — about half of them girls — to attend the "Envision Engineering" forum last week at the Women At Work Museum on Country Street

See link for complete article.


Air Force Portal Website BEIJING (Xinhua): China’s air force is to recruit 30 female pilot cadets this year. They will become part of a reserve force of women astronauts, according to an officer in charge of pilot recruitment. ...

I present only this paragraph, because each time I click on the link that is supposed to take me to this news page, I end up either at Google or Amazon. I can only assume, therefore, that the Chinese government doesn't want people accessing this webpage.

Videos of female martial artists

More of a dance choreography than karate, but...

Karate match - full contact, no protective gear

Karate tournment in Bavaria - criticised as lacking in fundamentals

Kata championship - Tokyo

A little bit of fencing

Fencing two - this is a bit silly, not sure where it's from...

Remembering the WASP

March is Women's History Month. It doesn't seem to get the media coverage of other history months, but that's life in the big city.

Anyway, here's a blog entry from KiwiBirdKayaker, remembering the WASP during Women's History Month.

Remember the WASP of WWII

The Ju-jutsu Suffragettes

(Edith Garrud, suffragette, 1910, giving a demonstration on an actor in policeman's uniform)

I write fan -fiction for my favorite TV show, The Avengers. (Patrick Macnee as John Steed, with Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel. No others need apply!)

When a man knows the martial arts, particularly in the 60s, you don't need to explain why. It's a "natural" thing for a man to do. But, why does a woman know martial arts?

Well, people who ask that question, and I admit I was one of 'em, don't know much about history. Women have been studying martial arts since the beginning of time. Not very many, obviously, in comparison to men, but they were there. Never forget Queen Boadicea (Boudica, also spelled Boudicca) of the Iceni, 60 AD!

Anyway, so I'm doing research into when women in England first started learning the Japanese martial arts of judo, karate and so on, and I admit to being surprised to learn that a British woman got a black belt in judo in 1935. Sarah Meyer studied the art in Japan, and then returned to England, where she opened her own dojo.

In doing furhter research, I was surprised to discover that she was not the first woman in England to study these arts. A Japanese man named Sadakazu "Raku" Uyenishi had opened a dojo in Soho before 1905, and in 1905, a woman named Mrs. Roger (Emily) Watts was studying there.

In 1905!

The Evolution of Women's Judo, 1900-1945

And as serendipity would have it, I see that The Lady Cavalier's have put together a stage piece about Edith Garrud.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What a "dumb chorus girl" can do

Way back before WWII.... and frankly for a couple of decades afterwards, any woman who wanted to do anything "out of the ordinary" was put down by the media and by her own peers.

Take for example Julie Stege. She was:

a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl trying to dance and sing her way to stardom on Broadway when World War II broke out. Then, suddenly, patriotism struck her.
An intense desire to do something to help her country caused her to kick off her dancing shoes and join the Women's Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. The pretty showgirl, who already had a civilian pilot license, became one of the first women in U.S. history trained to fly military aircraft.

"I joined the WASPs as fast as I could, and Ed Sullivan wrote in his column, 'Poor Julie has volunteered for the Air Force. She thinks she can fly. Doesn't she know she's a dumb chorus girl committing suicide?'" the former showgirl said with hearty laughter.

Thanks very much, Ed Sullivan!

Anyway, this info comes from an article at DefenseLinks News, from 2003, when they covered the debut of the documentary Above & Beyond: 100 Years of Women in Aviation

It makes interesting reading, so check it out here:

World War II Women Aviators Reminisce About Flying Army Aircraft

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Women's Aviation News, 3/22/08

In Top Form: Twenty years on, Lilliput Hats still relies on only seven pairs of hands
(An article on a hat shop, but the last paragraph is of interest):
Gingras's next hat trick? She's spent the better part of a year working on and refining a prototype pilot hat for Air Canada's female pilots. It's a dark navy felt captain's hat and, "has to be feminine but still retain its air of authority." Hidden inside the crown is a scrap of silk, a stylized silkscreen print by local artist Yasmine Louis --of Amelia Earhart.

Coast Guard sees TV series as inspiration for recruits
(Not aviation, but rather women moving into a traditionally male dominated area)
Birch said about 10 per cent of their seagoing workers are female, a percentage that's going up as more women opt for careers with the coast guard.

He said entry level wages are about $40,000 a year, with paid leave and benefits, and that can rise to $90,000 a year depending on position and certification.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Women in Aviation News 3/20/08

First ever batch of women fighter pilot graduates (in Pakistan)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
ISALAMABAD: The female pilots of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have completed their operational conversion on F-7 fighter aircraft.

Through consistent hard work, consummate dedication and exemplary spirit, the three female pilots along with 20 male colleagues graduated on Monday after completing their operational conversion course on F-7 fighter aircraft, says a PAF statement issued here.

They will now be deployed in different PAF fighter squadrons.The graduation ceremony of operational conversion course was held at the PAF base, Mianwali. Air Vice Marshal Faaiz Amir, Air Officer Commanding Northern Air Command, was the chief guest.


A Typical Paraglider Pilot? - No Such Thing!
A blog, scroll all the way to the bottom for a couple of paragraphs on women paragliders:

Particularly in Europe, a select few women have reached the highest standards in the sport by becoming active competition pilots. Such is the participation rate over there, there are even women-only events on the CIVL sporting calendar. CIVL is an international body that governs aspects of paragliding and hang-gliding, like the FAI in general aviation.

Now for a quick mention of 2 notable women in paragliding. Firstly, Azar Mazruii Farahani from Iran is the director of the Womens Air Sports Federation of Tehran. A professional paragliding instructor, she glides through the air with the greatest of ease wearing traditional Islamic clothing. That's different.

Secondly, one of the U.K.'s top female pilots is Nicky Moss. She was good enough to win the women's event of the British Open Paragliding Championship when it was held in ger, Spain. Not only that, Nicky also holds a British record in paragliding.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Women in Aviation News 3/19/08

A collection of news articles for Wednesday,March 19

Cessna Supports Women in Aviation Conference; Awards Scholarships
Wichita, Kan., March 18, 2008 – Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, awarded more than $ 25,000 in scholarships during the 19th annual Women in Aviation Conference last week in San Diego.
See article link for complete details.

Pilot inducted into women's aviation hall of fame
3/19/2008 - SAN DIEGO (AFPN) -- In the months since her last flight as the Thunderbirds No. 3 right wing pilot, Maj. Nicole Malachowski has had a hard time putting her accomplishment of being the first woman to fly on a U.S. military flight demonstration team into a proper perspective.
See article link for complete details.

Diamandis rallies WAI (Women in Aviation International) crowd Around Private Space Flight
Hopes To Grow Zero-G Program Significantly
by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
The Women in Aviation International Conference always has top speakers in the aviation field, and the messages these speakers impart to the audience have no time limit. So, even though the WAI conference is over for this year (start making plans for Atlanta (GA) February 26 - 28 2009) the speakers' words are worth repeating.
See article link for complete details.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bloggers and women in aviation

Arcadia-born Aviation Pioneer Harriet Quimby

The blog is called Betsie Bay: Somewhere north of routine.

The author gives no reason why she decided to profile Quimby today, except that she was born in Michigan... still, it's nice to see a pioneer woman pilot get some press today.!842A6A77A1CC22B3!569.entry

A woman's aviation blog from France, run by a guy named Denis, had an article on the WASP today.

Vicki Van Meter is dead

Record-setting young pilot dies at 26

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, Associated Press Writer

PITTSBURGH - Vicki Van Meter, celebrated for piloting a plane across the country at age 11 and from the U.S. to Europe at age 12, has died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Crawford County coroner said. She was 26.

Van Meter died Saturday and her body was found in her Meadville home on Sunday.

Her brother said she battled depression and opposed medication, but her family thought she had been dealing with her problems.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide in America, and probably throughout the world. If you are feeling depressed for a long period of time, you CANNOT snap out of it naturally, you must seek treatment. You can be helped, but you must seek treatment.

There is no need to be ashamed if you suffer from depression - or indeed any mental disorder. Simply seek treatment. Take medication. You may need to do controlled experiments to ensure that your dosage is the proper one, but once you've found that...your life will turn around.

Here is an article on her 1994 flight.

Monday, March 17, 2008

65-year-old woman in the UK becomes oldest female pilot

Highlands lady becomes UK's oldest female pilot
An Inverness-shire widow has become the oldest woman in the UK to obtain a private pilot's licence.

Sixty-five-year-old Anne Poole from Farr near Inverness passed the final part of her test from the city's airport at the weekend.

See link for complete article, and video profile.

Women in Aviation Hall of Fame Spotlight: Margaret Ringenberg

Women in Aviation Hall of Fame Spotlight: Margaret Ringenberg

The 2008 WIA Hall of Fame had 34 inductees: Nancy Harkness Love, Major Nicole Malachowski, Geradine "Gerry" Mock, and one group, the Woman's Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary, or WAT.

She has a chapter of her own in Tom Brokaw's book The Greatest Generation. The article from Aero-New (use link above) spotlights her.

Another link to read more about Ringenberg:

As for the other inductees, Nancy Harkness Love was the founder of the Women's Transport Auxiliary, before it was folded into the WASP under Jackie Cochran's watch, Major Nicole Malachowski was the first female member of the Thunderbirds (she has completed her tour and the Thunderbirds have another woman as part of the team, Major Samantha Weeks, who flies Lead Solo.

Gerri Mock was the first woman to pilot an aircraft on a solo trip around the world. It took her 29 days on April 18, 1964. She also holds the women's nonstop distance record of more than 4,500 miles.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ellen Evak Paneok has died

Alaska aviation pioneer, noted artist and author, skrimshander, public speaker, community activist/volunteer and friend, Ellen Evak Paneok died March 2, 2008, at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. She was 48.

Only 48 years old.... According to an AOPA website obit for her, she succumbed from Hepatitis C.

First Native woman bush pilot dies

Featured in numerous books on women and aviation, including "Bush Pilots of Alaska" and "Women Pilots of Alaska," she was also referenced in a number of other publications for her unique experience and knowledge of high-Arctic flying. Most recently she was included in Ann Cooper's new book "Stars of the Sky, Legends All," which will be released March 19.

Please see the article for complete details.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rant: Girls...what are you doing????

In the past three days, New York governor Eliot Spitzer has been under fire because he was caught using a prostitute - and prostitution is illegal in every state except Nevada. To make it worse, Spitzer was a "crusader" - who had prosecuted prostitution rings, even while he himself used the services of their competitors!

And on the day when he got up on a podium, and apologized to the media, his wife was standing right beside him. And when most politicians are caught with their pants down and have to end up facing the media...their wives are invariably standing beside them. And not to step up to the podium themselves and say, "I'm filing for a divorce from this dirtbag immediately."

It's one reason why I would never vote for Hillary Clinton - the amount of times her husband cheated on her, and she never divorced him, no, she always "stood by her man."

And the outrage of most people - of a Republican outlook, is filling the airwaves, whereas most Democrats are silent or saying it's a "private matter" and no big deal. Well, if he was just Joe Schmo, I suppose it would be no big deal. Although I think that prostitutes, when found, go to jail, whereas their "johns" usually just have their names put in the paper and that's it?

And let's face it, if guys didn't go to prostitutes, prostitute rings wouldn't exist, would they? I remember an episode of One Day at a Time from 20 years ago, Annie Romano has to set up the entertainment for a visiting businessman, and her boss doesn't want her to do it. Why - because her boss knows that this guy wants to be set up with a prostitute - and I doubt if they were making that up out of whole cloth. I'm willing to bet a gazillion dollars that one out of every 10 guys who goes on a business trip, finds himself a prostitute to amuse himself while he's away from his wife and his children. He wants to feel "adventurous" I suppose.

And then we've got the case of "Girls Gone Wild" video empire founder Joe Francis who has spent a year in jail because he used underaged girls in his videos - which have earned him $29 million a year.

Let me repeat that. Guys, and perhaps women of a certain orientation, are making this guy rich, buying $29 million worth of his wares a year. If he sells a DVD for $25, how many people have to buy one to make him $29 million a year? And of this... how much does he pay his "models" I wonder?

Anyway, the thing about this guy is that yes, he used girls that were under age - but only because they told him that they were of age, and signed contracts to that effect. And these days, any girl 13 or over is wearing makeup that makes her look 20, and probably wears the tight shirts that reveal her belly button, and walks with that swing of her hips so all the guys can get a good view...

And I'm thinking to myself, it's not this millionaire jerk who should have been in the slammer, but those underage girls who had absolutely no shame in prostituting themselves, (by that I mean selling their bodies to the camera, and men in general, not men in particular) although they probably wouldn't have minded getting some real action, either.

I dunno...I just despair for teenage girls sometime. For women who stay with men who cheat on them, or abuse them ("but I know he loves me, really.") and so on, or for those so insecure in their bodies that they have to flaunt themselves so that guy's look at them, and treat them, like the brainless sex objects they are.

The guy intends to start filming another "Girls Gone Wild" video immediately, and what I want to know is, now that girls - assuming they can read - know he makes $29 million a year, will they demand that they get paid at least a million to appear in his little videos, or will they do it for $10 and a free meal?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Interview with Diana McIntosh

Diana McIntosh isn't a pilot, but she's a pianist who has done a one-woman show about the aviator Beryl Markham.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Grace Jones, WASP, RIP

I'm a bit behind the times with this.

Famous fashion store owner Grace Jones died in February at the age of 87.

She served as a WASP during WWII.

Check out the tribute to her at Wings Across America (the Official WASP website).