Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Women pilots represented at the Smithsonian

Of the 100 planes, space craft and so in the book Best of the National Air and Space Musseum, four of them represent women and their achievements in the air.

Most famous, of ocurse, is Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega, in which she became the first woman, and only the second person, to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, and the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the United States.

This Vega 5B is one of 131 Vegas manufactured, with a spruce veneer monocoque fuselage and a spruce cantilever wing.

The Vega is displayed in the Pioneers of Flight gallery.

Geraldine Mock flew her Cessna 180 Spirit of Columbus around the world. And she did this only two years after learning to fly. For her flight, the Cessna was outditted with additional fuel tanks, fitted inside the cabin.

Mock set out on March 19, 1964 at 9:31 am from Columbus, Ohio and headed southeast toward Burma. From there she flew to Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Then India, Thailand, the Phillipines, Guam, Wake Island and Hawai. She then flew from Hawaii to Oakland - the longest leg of the flight, which took 18 hours.

She then flew to Tucson, El Paso, Bowling Green, and then back to Clumbus, arriving on April 17, 1964. The flight took 29 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes.

Patty Wagstaff flew the Extra 260, in which she became the first woman to win the US National Aerobatic Championship in September 1991. The Extra 260 is a one of a kind aircraft created by Walter Extra, a former German aerobatic competitor and one of the world's premier aerobatic aircraft designers and builders.

Betty Skelton flew her aerobatic plane "Little Stinker." It was (and is) a Pitts Special S-1C had a slightly longer wing and fuselage than did the S-1, a smaller aerobatic plane that could climb, roll and change attitude more quickly than other planes of the day. It also had a Continental C-85-F5 engine. Betty Skelton bught it in August 1948, for $3,000. She made several modifications to it, such as changing the propeller to a fixed-pitch McCauley. She won the 1949 Feminine International Aerobatic Championship in this craft. She retired from aerobatic competiiton in 1951.

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