Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Ladybirds

Here's some more brief entries on women pilots from Ladybirds: The Untold Story of Women Pilots in America.

A Whirly-Girl (helicopter pilot), K. C. Nichols, made it possible for women to fly stunt doubles in parts that had women pilot characters. Her lobbying efforts with the Screen Actors Guild helped eliminate the "man pilot in the wig" role.

Kay Bowman wanted to learn to fly helicopters but needed a job to pay for her lessons. When Kay heard that Jane Fonda needed a cook for her health spa, Kay applied. Instead of sending a resume, she preparewd a whole meal. Her inventiveness landed her the job....she went on to earn a Whirly-Girl scholarship, and now has her flight instructor's rating.

It was 5 am December 29, 1986 and American Airlines Flight 417, a Boeing 727, had just cleared for takeoff. Captain Bass pointed the nose of the jet into the wind, and began the takeoff roll. There was nothing unusual about the takeoff roll or the airplane lifting into the pre-dawn sky, but there was something different about this flight. Captain Beverly Bass (American Airline's first female captain, and at the age of 35 also their youngest) First Officer Theresa Claridge and Flight Engineer Tracy Prior were making history for American Airlines as their first all-female cockpit crew.

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