Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hunting Warbirds: The Obsessive Quest for the Lost Aircraft of World War II, by Carl Hoffman

Hunting Warbirds: The Obsessive Quest for the Lost Aircraft of World War II, by Carl Hoffman
Ballantine Books, 2001
241 pages. No index. 16 pages of b&w photos.
Library: 623.746 HOF

"Winged treasure" they call them-the lost remains of the great American fighter planes and bombers that won World War II. Hellcats and Supperfortresses, Corsairs and Dauntlesses. Produced by the thousands at the height of the war, and then cast off as scrap in the decades that followed, these warbirds are now worth literally anything-fortunes,families, even lives-to the peoplewho search for them. Like many men, writer Carl Hoffman was bitten by the warbird bug as a child. But he never imagined that he would one day witness and participate in a heroic adventure himself-the most audacious warbird rescue attempt of all time.

The crash of the Kee Bird B-29 Superfortress made banner headlines in 1947 when a team of Air Force pilots pulled off the near-miraculous feat of locating the wreck in Greenland and snatching its stranded crew from the teeth of the arctic winter.

For nearly half a century, the almost perfectly intact warbird lay abandoned on a lake of ice-but not forgotten. Fifty years later, with collectors paying upward of a million dollars for salvageable WWII planes, two intense fanatics, legendary test pilot Darryl Greenamyer and starry-eyed salvage wizard Gary Larkins, hatched the insane idea of launching an expedition to Greenland to find the Kee Bird, bring it back to life, and fly it out.

In this riveting adventure of man, machine and history, the quest for winged treasure ultimately extends far beyond the search for the Kee Bird. Hoffman literally crisscrosses the country to track down the key players in the high-stakes warbird game.

He meets a retired Midwestern carpenter who crammed every inch of his yard with now-precious warbirds during the lean years when they were considered junk; attends an air show where crowds go wild at the sight of four of the fourteen airworthy B-17s flying in formation, speaks to pilots and mechanics, millionaire businessmen and penniless kids-all of them ready to drop everything in pursuit of these fabled planes.

"These planes are a sickness, that's all there is to it," one warbird fan tells Hoffma as he lovingly polishes his vintage B-17. In this superbly crafted narrative, Hoffman turns the warbird craze into the stuff of high drama and awesome adventure. Hunting Warbirds takes us to the heart of one of the most fascinating obsessions of our time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Zonta Club's Amelia Earhart luncheon big success Zonta Club's Amelia Earhart luncheon big success
Spirited and determined women have had a track record of success over the past century and now we must commit to helping those following behind reach the same goal. That was the message of the successful Third Annual Amelia Earhart Education and Scholarship Luncheon sponsored by the Zonta Club of Bonita Springs April 18th at the Bonita Bay Club. Ms Earhart is the most famous member of Zonta International, the Club’s parent organization.

Over 100 guests were motivated by the dynamic featured speaker, Susan Bulkeley Butler, author of Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World, and first female employee and partner of Arthur Anderson consulting firm, now known as Accenture. The founder of her own Institute for the Development of Women Leaders, Ms. Butler noted that since winning the right to vote in 1920, women have slowly won leadership in business and politics and the beginnings of equal pay. But the reality is their numbers no where match their over 50 percent representation in our population or the compensation paid to men for the same work, she said.

August 26, 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment which gave women in our country the right to vote and run for office. Our goal, Ms Butler advocated, is to lay out a plan, make goals and work in our own dedicated ways to ensure even greater numbers of women reach their pinnacle by that historic anniversary,

“Susan certainly inspired us to think how we can really make a change in the future of women's equality. That is what our luncheon was really about - making educational opportunities available for women in Southwest Florida,” said Maggie Petraits, Chair of the Club’s Financial Development Committee and co-chair of the Luncheon.

Club member Corinne Reed chaired the event “and she did a fabulous job and worked very hard to secure our speakers and solicit and organize our terrific silent auction items. Thanks to all our Club members, our attendance was great and as a result of the funds raised, the Club will be able to award a substantial scholarship to an area woman,” said Ms. Petraits.

Guests were also inspired by Faith Pearson, 89-year-old local veteran pilot, who met Ms. Earhart and was motivated to work very hard to become the first female certified to fly at an early Indiana aviation program. She was interviewed by Stacey Deffenbaugh, local NBC2 and ABC7 news anchor, who served as emcee.

Those attending were also treated to a display of Ms. Earhart’s personal effects including her pilot’s license and her prenuptial agreement that are part of the Women’s Archives at Purdue University sponsored by Ms. Butler.

Proceeds from the Luncheon will support the Club’s scholarship fund and grants promoting education of women. As a result of this annual affair, over the past two years the Club has awarded substantial scholarships to two area women continuing their education in math, science or business, fields that mirror those followed by Ms. Earhart. The Club also awarded grants to several local non-profits working to encourage and promote the education of local girls and women. To make a donation or learn more about the Club, visit the group’s web site,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vernice Armour's book Zero to Breakthrough

Before she was thirty years old, Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour had become a decorated naval aviator, Camp Pendleton's 2001 Female Athlete of the Year and Strongest Warrior winner, the first female African-American on Nashville's motorcycle police squad, and a member of the San Diego Sunfire professional women's football team. She's a force to be reckoned with, and she believes that women and men from all walks of life have the potential to achieve the highest levels of success with the right flight plan. In Zero to Breakthrough, Vernice turns aspiration into action by revealing how to create the path that will get you out of your rut on onto the runway - cleared for take off.

Got an email blast from Vernice Armour today:

THURSDAY is the official launch for my first major book, Zero to Breakthrough! We've all had experiences in our life that we've paid for with the blood running through our veins. Many of you have asked how I went from beat cop to combat pilot in three years. And, organizations like Bank of America, Comcast and NASA have asked me to share my principles with their workforce. Well, I've been hard at work putting it all on paper and it's ready for you.

I've poured my heart and soul into this to make sure I gave you the exact strategies I used to create the breakthroughs in my own life.

Dr. Mae Jemison, first woman of color in the world to go into space, wrote the foreword of my book and says this about it...

"In Z2B, Vee shares how she identifies, analyzes and digests personal experiences... Vee describes how to plan, stop procrastinating, distinguish between obstacles you can control and those you cannot and execute and benefit from lessons learned."

Go here to read all about it:


I'm donating a portion of ALL proceeds from preorders to two amazing organizations for women veterans: the Women in Military Service For America Memorial, which is the ONLY major national monument that honors all servicewomen; past, present and future; and Final Salute Inc., which helps homeless women veterans and their families.


Free coaching to celebrate the completion and launch of Zero to Breakthrough! In the 7-part coaching series, I'll go over specific insights that I teach in Z2B and share more in-depth strategies on how you can create your own flight plan for success!

Connect With Me!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spotlight on better uniforms for female GIs

Google News: Spotlight on better uniforms for female GIs
WASHINGTON (AP) — Imagine U.S. combat troops and aviators wearing body armor that fits so poorly that it's tough to position a weapon to shoot, combat uniforms with knee pads that hit around mid-shin and flight suits that make it nearly impossible to urinate while in flight.

For many female troops, it's just another day on the battlefield as they wear clothing and protective gear designed primarily for men. Each of these issues is now getting some attention from the military.

Seven hundred female Army troops are testing a new combat uniform for women with shorter sleeves and knee pads in the right place for their generally shorter legs. A committee on women's issues has recommended that flight suits be redesigned for both men and women so it's unnecessary to completely disrobe before urinating. And engineers have been looking at ways to design body armor that better fits the contours of a woman's body.

Some military women are reluctant to embrace changes that would set them apart from their male colleagues, but several former and current military women said the changes certainly beat the consequences of the current one-piece flight suits or being unable to engage in battle or defend themselves because of uncooperative gear.

Female troops are about 20 percent more likely than their male counterparts to report musculoskeletal disorders, and poorly fitting body armor could at least in part be a factor. For female aviators, dehydration can be a hazard if they opt not to drink water before flights, and those who wait too long to use the bathroom can experience urinary problems.

Some of the challenges for women came up in focus groups conducted with both male and female service members, a majority of whom reported that the equipment given to females was inadequate, "including, but not limited to poor quality or outdated equipment, lack of necessary equipment, tardy issue of equipment, and equipment not sized or designed for women," according to a 2009 report by the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. The report noted that the problems weren't always confined to women.

"When your gear doesn't fit right, it's going to make you more vulnerable and less effective," said Spc. Chandra Banks, 27, an Army reservist who has done two tours in Iraq and now works as a research fellow for the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Banks said she noticed improvements in her body armor during her second deployment, but because the armor was so large it still chafed her hips when she had to sit for hours in a Humvee, and aggravated a knee injury because of the armor's unevenly distributed weight. She said better-fitting body armor would also make it easier to position a rifle or machine gun for shooting.

In January, the congressionally appointed Military Leadership Diversity Commission recommended to Congress and President Barack Obama that women be allowed to fully serve in combat. The reality, however, is that women already are serving in the war zones in positions such as truck drivers and helicopter pilots. About 14 percent of all service members are women, and about 220,000 women have gone to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army is well under way in developing a woman's combat uniform that would replace the "unisex" one designed primarily for a man's body. It is similar to combat uniforms in women's sizes offered by the Air Force and Marines. The Army Uniform Board will vote this fall on whether to adopt it.

The goal is to give the approximately 70,000 women in the Army a better fitting and more professional looking uniform that doesn't stand out when they are in formation, said Maj. Sequana Robinson, assistant product manager for clothing at the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Va.

A better fitting uniform "raises motivation and the performance level because a person feels more professional," Robinson said. "So, it's the same uniform. It is not, not a form-fitting uniform. It's just a uniform that's based on female body dimensions. It's less material because women are different than men."

For the first time since 1988, engineers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts are doing an anthropometric survey of thousands of troops to better gauge body shapes and measurements within the Army's force. They are measuring 13,000 troops, including 5,000 female active duty and National Guard members.

The measurements are expected to help the center design body armor that better fits women.

If the body armor is too small, it can be painful. If it's too large, it can be difficult to walk in or otherwise maneuver.

Former Army Staff Sgt. Maria Canales, 30, of New York City said during her Iraq deployment in 2005-2006 she first wore body armor that was painfully snug, but after she upgraded to a larger size she worried about her safety.

"Thank God, nothing happened where my body was compromised, but it was looser and I guess that's the disadvantage because what if ... we have contact, it would be easier for something to happen," Canales said.

Since women tend to be smaller than men, the issue of body armor weight can cause "physical performance degradation" in a number of ways, David Accetta, a spokesman for the Natick center, said in an email. While that's also true for many male troops, the problems tend to be more pronounced in smaller women, Accetta said. Engineers are attempting to design armor that takes into account narrower shoulders and smaller waists, as well as breasts. Accetta said it's not clear when it will be done.

"The physics associated with trying to have the body armor work in a complex shape is just a bridge too far right now," Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, the top officer at the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, told a congressional committee recently.

For fliers, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services has recommended that flight suits be designed for both men and women that are more functional, meaning it is easier to pull down in the back to use the restroom without an aviator's having to completely disrobe. Last week, Fuller said the Army would look into designing such a suit with women in mind. Since 2004, the Air Force has offered an aviation suit with roomier hips and chest for women, and female aviators can opt to request one with an "extended zipper" that the Air Force says "may minimize the need for a urinary relief device."

Similar to what happens to men who are larger or smaller on average, some female troops also have faced supply issues for some gear such as boots.

Staci-Jill Burnley, a spokeswoman for the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, said that boots are procured based on a statistical representation of the soldier population and that they "continuously monitor trends" so such shortages can be corrected.

Lory Manning, a retired Navy captain who is director of the women in the military project at the Women's Research and Education Institute, said the military is paying more attention to providing clothing and gear for women because there are enough of them serving now to make it cost-effective.

"One of the difficulties has been in the past there weren't enough women in the military to make it worthwhile to go out with separate contracts to get women's clothes made for certain things, so they just wore the men's," Manning said.

She said it's just logical for the military to make upgrades for the women since, "the men wouldn't like it if they were stuck wearing women's sizes."

Christina Roof, national legislative director of AMVETS, said she's happy to see the military look at making improvements for women, although it should have happened sooner.

"A lot of the women are carrying around their weight and they're not complaining, but I think if they're going to be asked to do a lot of the same things, they should be equipped with the proper gear so they can do the best job they can do," Roof said.

One female soldier happy with the new uniform under development is Capt. Malgorzata A. Bujak, 28, a nurse who is helping with the testing. She said she gets cornered by other female soldiers asking how they can get one, too.

I tell them "that hopefully it will be coming out shortly," Bujak said. "They are still testing it, but hopefully, it's coming out shortly."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't write off female front-line warriors just yet

The Canberra Times: Don't write off female front-line warriors just yet

Women in front-line combat: it's literally the stuff of science-fiction. In the film Starship Troopers and television series Battlestar Galactica, women pilot fighters shoot in firefights and brawl in fist-fights. They eat, sleep and shower with men.
Can fiction become reality in Australia? The Government recently flagged the introduction of women into front-line roles. ''Men and women'', said Prime Minister Julia Gillard, ''are equal''. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott concurred. ''If a woman has the capability'', he said, ''there's no reason why she shouldn't do the job''. Former chief of the defence force, General Peter Cosgrove, is also a reported backer.

Coming after recent scandals, these announcements might be seen as political game-playing: whitewashing the dirty khaki. Nonetheless, they are bona fide questions, which Australian politicians and military personnel must ask. And they should be asked rationally and practically, rather than deferring to utopian abstractions or bigoted custom.

Those in our armed forces may doubt whether civilians can discuss the issue authoritatively we have no experience of combat's demands. This is a legitimate doubt. But the armed forces themselves are divided on this, so military experience alone is clearly not enough for consensus. The debate is partly one of values, not simply military prowess.

As the military fights on our behalf, it certainly behooves civilians to take the issue seriously. It's about being clear about our soldiers' rights. They are still Australian citizens, and we rightfully expect standards of gender equality to apply to them. Do they?

The most obvious problem is physiological. Women are, on average, weaker and less physically robust than men. A 2003 study by the Israeli Defence Forces concluded that women were less able to lift heavy equipment, and continue sustained, strenuous movement. However, many physical limitations are relative look at female boxers, weightlifters, wrestlers. Limitations can be decreased with training. Mrs Average might not be as strong as Mr Average. But self-selecting, motivated, well-trained recruits are not average. Retired US Navy Captain Lory Manning cites female military recruits in Britain running almost 10km with over 20kg on their backs. They needed extra training, but they succeeded. Some front-line equipment is heavier, but Manning's point is clear: physical fitness can be increased for women, as with men.

Can every woman carry injured comrades or lift heavy munitions? Probably not. Neither can most men. But as in the workplace and sports, the curve for women's physical strength and stamina can certainly be pushed to the right of the graph. Another argument against women on the front-line is psychological: they increase stress, decrease morale and cohesion. Women will snap in combat. Men will be demoralised by female casualties and fatalities, and their male-only bonds will break. There's no evidence that female soldiers are more prone to psychological instability, or that traditional ''feminine'' traits are hard-wired into female brains. And anecdotal evidence is promising. Many women in support positions in Iraq have seen prolonged combat. In 2007 Manning reported on PBS that they've done ''brilliantly well'', with no discernible difference in combat performance or psychological well-being.

The ''morale'' argument is more serious. It doesn't matter how physically fit, well-trained and skilled female soldiers are. What matters is male soldiers' responses to them: unease, alienation or horror. Civilians might roll their eyes at these double-standards, but in combat morale and cohesion are vital. Whatever compromises them is suspect, no matter how egalitarian.

Men's reactions to injured women are undoubtedly raw. Women are routinely killed and maimed in war most are unarmed civilians. This rightly elicits a visceral response, though perhaps to innocents brutalised rather than simply to gender. In 1948 Israel's military took women off the front line after a captured female soldier was raped, mutilated and murdered. Even veterans can be horrified by women soldiers' suffering. However, attitudes can slowly change.

Since the Arab-Israeli War, Israel has continued to draft both sexes. Today Israeli women are fighter pilots and snipers, and the Caracal Battalion has male and female infantrymen. According to The Washington Times one Sergeant Pini joined Caracal hoping for a girlfriend, but discovered that ''everyone becomes one of the guys'' on patrol. The point: military service can unite soldiers by common experience, not simply by gender. Male bonding is not the only kind of unity. Of course these arguments are not the final word. More evidence for or against is required. But the debate should continue, for Australia's standards in the military, and in gender equity demand it.

Concorde's only female pilot lived a life of adventure

The Vancouver Sun: Concorde's only female pilot lived a life of adventure

Barbara Harmer, who has died aged 57, earned her place in the record books on March 25, 1993, when she flew as first officer on a British Airways Concorde from London's Heathrow to JFK airport in New York.

For 10 years she remained Concorde's only woman pilot to fly regular commercial services, until October 2003 when the world's only Mach 2 civil jet was withdrawn from service by its two operators, British Airways and Air France, in the wake of the catastrophic accident to an Air France Concorde in July 2000.

Harmer had been flying the longhaul DC 10 with British Caledonian when the airline merged with British Airways in 1987. One of only 60 women pilots flying with the national airline at that time, she was chosen in 1992 for the intensive six-month conversion course for Concorde.

In May 1999 she took the Manchester United football team to play Bayern Munich in the Champions' League final in Barcelona, a flight that she described as one of the most exciting of her career. "I felt quite emotional as I taxied the Concorde out on to the runway," she remembered later, "with British flags flying and thousands of people wishing the team luck on the way."

Most of her flying was on the North Atlantic route, but she never lost her sense of wonder at seeing the world from 40,000 metres as she travelled at 2,100 km/h.

The youngest of four daughters, Harmer was born in Loughton, Essex, on Sept. 14, 1953. Educated at a convent school after the family moved to Bognor Regis, she left at 15 to become an apprentice hairdresser.

But after five years she decided that she wanted more excitement in her life.

She applied for a job as a trainee air traffic controller at Gatwick Airport, at the same time paying for flying lessons. For the five years she worked at Gatwick she scraped together the money for enough lessons to gain her private pilot's licence.

She obtained a bank loan of £10,000 to add to her flying hours and flew as an instructor at Goodwood Flying School. For two years she studied by correspondence course for her commercial pilot's licence, which she finally obtained in May 1982.

Her tenacity to succeed was put to a stern test after she had qualified to be a commercial pilot. It took 100 applications before she found a job with Genair, a small commuter airline operating from Humberside Airport. She joined British Caledonian in March 1984 to fly the BAC 111, later converting to the DC 10.

After Concorde was withdrawn from service Harmer retrained and became a British Airways captain on long-haul routes flying the Boeing 777 until she took voluntary redundancy from the airline in 2009.

Her affection for Concorde never wavered. "Concorde is so smooth it doesn't really get the adrenalin going but there's nothing else like it in the world," she said. "Even pilots stop and stare. It has an aura about it."

Harmer always led an adventurous life. She was a fully qualified commercial offshore yacht master and often commanded the crew of Concorde in international yachting events. She had won several races, and, despite knowing she was seriously ill, had intended to take part in a transatlantic event in her French-built 10.5-metre Archambault 35 in 2013.

A keen gardener, she had created a Mediterranean-style garden at her home overlooking the sea at Felpham, West Sussex. She became an inspiration to many women and was much in demand for speaking engagements.

Harmer, who had been suffering from cancer, died on Feb. 20. She is survived by her partner of 25 years, Andrew Hewett.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Women Pilots of World War II, by Jean Hascall Cole

Women Pilots of World War II, by Jean Hascall Cole
University of Utah Press, 1992
155 pages, plus Glossary and index
Library: 940.544 COL

Collected by one of the forty-nine members of Class 44-W-2, Jean Hascall Cole's interviews with her former classmates document their valuable contribution to the history of women, aviation, and the military.

Women Pilots of World War II presents a rare look at the personal experiences of the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) by recording the adventures from one of eighteen classes of women to graduate from the Army Air Force's flight training school during World WAr II. This unique oral history [transcriptions] verifies the flying accomplishments of these women from as early as 1943.

The women pilots of class 44-W-2 flew every type of aircraft, including heavy bombers, transports and pursuits. Their experiences included crashes on takeoff, midair collisions, forced landings, parachute jumps from sabotaged aircraft, and many other exciting tales.

Women Pilots of World War II starts with their training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas; follows them to their bases, and documents what happened once the WASP program was deactivated in December 1944. In conclusion, the pilots speculate on the changing roles of women in our society, the value of their service to their country, and their contribution to the women's movement and society in general.

Table of Contents
1. How it began
2. Avenger Field and primary training
3. Ground school and basic training
4. Instrument training and Link
5. Cross-country and advanced training
6. B-26 School
7. Other bases, other planes
8. Test pilots and ferry pilots
9. Pursuit pilots and bomber pilots
10. Deactivation and beyond

Monday, April 18, 2011

High flying pilot keeps her feet on the ground

Doris Lockness

News from March 9, 2011
High flying pilot keeps her feet on the ground
Perhaps you’ve seen Doris Lockness driving her 1999 S-type Jaguar to the grocery store or maybe you’ve met her at the Senior Citizen Center in El Dorado Hills.

If you’re an aviation enthusiast, you may know that Doris used to be a WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots) in WWII delivering military aircraft from the factories to military bases nationwide, and a flight instructor.

At 101, Lockness lives independently, cooks her own food and does most of her housework.

Last year, on Feb. 2, a number of birthday parties were thrown for her. One of her parties was with her friend, Julie Cark who took her up in her T-28 plane.

The Blackhawk Helicopter Pilots at Mather Field gave her a tour through the chopper.

There she was awarded the California National Guard Honorable Order of St. Michael and also a wall plaque from G.E. Aviation for years of safety in aviation.

She also received the WASP Gold Medal from Wilma L. Vaught, President of the Women’s Memorial in Washington, DC. She is pictured here with these medals.

President Obama and Governor Schwarzenegger sent her letters congratulating her on her 100th birthday.

How did you get started in aviation?

I moved from Bryant, Penn., to Ohio and then to California in 1930 with my first husband.

Our home was close to a small airport in Wilmington. I used to see the planes fly over the house and knew that I wanted to fly.

I waited until all my kids were in school and began to pursue my dream. I rode my bicycle to the airport daily where I became a “Girl Friday” for a while doing odd jobs around the airport.

Eventually, I began taking flying lessons. They were $2.50 for a half hour. I did 10 hours before I could fly solo. On Sundays people would line up in their cars to see “that crazy woman fly.”

In 1939 I got my pilot’s license, logged over 10,000 miles, and flew my last plane at 89. At this time I sold my Vultee-Stinson warbird, the “Swamp Angel,” which had years and years of history behind it. I cried when I saw it go.

What aircrafts have you flown?

I have commercial licenses for land and sea planes, helicopters, hot air balloons, gliders, gyroplanes and single, twin and multi-engine planes. I’m partial though to helicopters. They’re the most difficult but the most fun to fly.

I was the 55th woman in the world to receive a helicopter rating in 1963 and became a Whirly Girl. I’ve owned a total of nine planes in my lifetime.

What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you?

I was in a motor cycle accident when I was 29. The injuries were pretty serious – broken pelvis and other internal injuries. I had to go to Palm Springs to recover.

It’s there where I met my second husband, Robert, who was an architect. He, unlike my first husband, really supported my love for flying and was a great part of my flying life. He also introduced me to his hobby which was sports cars.

Will you be writing a book about your experiences?

No. That takes too much time. However, information about me has been published in a number of books such as “Hovering” by Henry M. Holden, “Ladybirds II: The Continuing Story of American Women in Aviation” and “Women and Flight” by Carolyn Russo.

The latter is a Smithsonian Institution publication. When it was published, some of the women written about in the book were flown to the Smithsonian on an all-expense paid trip. It was wonderful.

What are some of your favorite songs?

I like songs from Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. I listen to politics a lot. I like to keep up with what’s going on in the world.

What are some of your favorite movies?

I like the old romantic movies and the ones with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe and Kathyn Hepburn in them.

What activities do you enjoy now?

I’m an honorary member of the Sacramento Jaguar Club and join them on trips to Daffodil Hill and Apple Hill.

Cars are my passion too. I go to the Cameron Park Show & Shine car show every year.

Occasionally I have lunch with the Amelia Earhart’s Ninety Nines. If the Senior Center has a good lunch, I’ll stop by there for a bite to eat. I’ll also go to some of the parties they have.

I’m a member of the Whirly Girl helicopter organization, the National Aeronautic Association and the OX 5 Pioneers.

What about your family?

My second husband passed away 10 years ago. He was nine years younger than me. I have three sons ages 81, 79 and 77 and a daughter who died of cancer. Together, they have 13 children and those children have about – I’ve lost track – 35 children and some of them have children of their own. Our family consists of five living generations.

What’s your secret to longevity?

I keep busy and active, don’t smoke and have an occasional glass of wine with dinner. I plan to go on until 105 because my doctor said he’d take me out for a steak and lobster dinner with wine when I reach that age. I can’t wait.

What dreams do you have?

I miss flying a lot – especially helicopters. I used to go to aviation conventions and air shows but can’t do that either.

Female pilot marks Spitfire’s 75th anniversary

This news is from March 5, 2011.

BBC: Female pilot marks Spitfire’s 75th anniversary
Carolyn Grace, 58, thought to be the world's only female Spitfire pilot, gave the public a view of her plane over Southampton Water earlier.

Later, she flew the Spitfire around a lap of Southampton International Airport to recreate the test flight.

The airport, then Eastleigh airfield, was the setting for the 1936 event.

The aircraft was designed by RJ Mitchell at Supermarine's factory in Southampton.

He died of cancer aged 42 in 1937, never seeing the aircraft go on to become one of the iconic planes of World War II, helping to win the crucial Battle of Britain.

Mrs Grace flew her plane, the Grace Spitfire, from Southampton International Airport at 1130 GMT, taking it out over Southampton Water for the public to view.

Accompanying Mrs Grace in the two-seater aircraft was Nick Hancock, the architect of a new Spitfire tribute planned for the city.

Fundraising is under way to raise £2m needed for the landmark.

Continue reading the main story

Australian-born Mrs Grace learned to fly after her husband was killed

Spitfire woman ready for flypast
The second flight, which took place at about 1530 GMT, involved a 15-minute display by Mrs Grace over the airport.

Mrs Grace began learning to fly her husband's plane after he was killed in a car accident in 1988, aged 52.

His treasured fighter plane, which he had recovered from a museum in 1979 and painstakingly rebuilt over five years, was left untouched in the hangar.

Australian-born Mrs Grace, of Halstead, Essex, decided to learn to fly it in his memory. Her first solo flight was in 1990.

She now flies at air shows throughout the UK in Grace Spitfire, which was built in 1944 as a then single-seat fighter.

Her plane is thought to be just one of two two-seater Spitfires that are airworthy in the UK.

There are also only thought to be 18 airworthy single-seat Spitfires left in the UK out of more than 22,500 built for the war.

New ATP Navigator® Online Technology Empowers Aviation Maintenance

PR: New ATP Navigator® Online Technology Empowers Aviation Maintenance
and Unleashes Broad Potential for Next-Generation Advancements

Brisbane, Calif., April 12, 2011 – Aircraft Technical Publishers (ATP®) announced today that the ATP Navigator® online service, the industry’s first single source, online solution, is now available for aviation maintenance professionals. This online service is focused on new technologies that bring increased productivity and reduced operating costs through single source maintenance technical publications, regulatory research, compliance tracking and other next-generation technologies supporting aviation maintenance processes. The ATP Navigator® technology supporting this new service also broadens ATP’s potential for future next-generation advancements as ATP expands its services for aviation maintenance and solutions for other industries.

According to an industry study1, up to 50% of maintenance professional’s time can be spent searching for information. The ATP Navigator® online service represents a milestone for providing online access to both regulatory and OEM technical publications, including airframe, engine, propeller, and selected avionics, with technology designed to increase productivity for maintenance professionals. Regulatory publications include FAA, ICAO and EASA ADs and regulatory information. Included with the productivity tools is the ability to search across multiple documents from multiple vendors and regulatory agencies at once, patented compliance tracking tools, sophisticated indexing, and advanced keyword searching.

The evolution of the ATP Navigator® technology into an online Software as a Service also brings new capabilities to the company and positions ATP for broad new technology advancements. ATP has a long history of industry firsts and new technologies designed to streamline workflows, simplify processes and increase productivity for aviation maintenance. This new online platform will serve as a hub for future ATP advancements and solutions as they are developed for aviation maintenance and other industries.

According to Rich Marino, President of ATP, “As the complexity of aviation maintenance grows, operations are searching for solutions that streamline the workflow and increase productivity. With the advances made in the ATP Navigator online service we are enabling maintenance operations to benefit from the power of next-generation technology.” Mr. Marino continued, “We are committed to listening to our customers and bringing new advancements that benefit maintenance professionals and our OEM partners. The new ATP Navigator online service provides the necessary infrastructure and capabilities as we move forward with this goal.”

About ATP
For over 35 years Aircraft Technical Publishers (ATP®) has provided the global aviation community valued and effective aviation information solutions. The company’s unique combination of skilled aviation and information professionals, innovative technology, and a deep understanding of aviation safety requirements positions ATP to uniquely offer solutions and systems supporting the information and conformance needs of the industry.

ATP is universally known as the general aviation community’s single-source solution for maintenance and regulatory library services. The company has a worldwide customer base including fixed base operators, repair stations, aircraft and component manufacturers, regulatory agencies, airlines, schools and corporate operators. With a long history of facilitating content distribution and access for aircraft manufacturers, ATP solutions, including the NavigatorV® software platform, support subscriber management, print-on-demand provisioning and branded portal needs. Additionally, ATP’s AskBob® online aviation community is one of the largest and most informative aviation forums facilitating connections and communications between parties interested in today’s maintenance issues.

Recently listed as a Qualified Certification Consultant on the FAA website, ATP helps new entrants build certification packages and prepares current certificate holders to achieve approval for ops specs changes. Services include gap assessment against current process, documentation remediation and development, and oversight preparedness. ATP’s unique ICAPSM web application facilitates ATOS conformance and reporting, and is the only solution capable of delivering a push button Letter of Compliance for ATOS, IOSA, and IBAC oversight reviews. This application forms a building block of SMS by promoting the collaborative management of essential operational documents required of all part 121, 135 and 91 certificate holders.


In her purple satin flying costume Harriet Quimby cut quite a figure in early aviation. While other women aviators wore combinations of men's clothing adapted for safety and comfort in the pilot's seat, Harriet designed her own suit with an attached hood rather than a helmet. Photographs of Harriet Quimby reveal a beautiful, slender woman with dark eyes and a sense of style. Descriptions of her in news articles also noted she was intelligent, inquisitive, creative, and daring enough to fly an aeroplane during a time when driving an automobile was still uncommonly exciting. Since 1991 her lovely face has graced a 50 cent U.S. Airmail stamp as her Bleriot monoplane flies in the background.

Harriet's Family and Early Years
Harriet was born in May of 1875 in Michigan. There is no birth certificate or school records to document her earliest years while living with her parents, William and Ursula, and her older sister, Kittie. There were siblings who died due to various diseases that were born before Harriet and Kittie. However, by age 5, Harriet is listed with her family on the 1880 census of Arcadia, living on their farm. Both William and Ursula were from New York state, and were not immigrants from Ireland as often speculated. Ursula's family background included skills in herbal healing. When William was discharged from the Union Army due to illness, Ursula cared for him. The Quimby's probably moved between Arcadia and the Coldwater areas of Michigan, but they are recorded as owning a farm in Arcadia which failed in the late 1880's. Abandoning the farm, the Quimbys headed west with newly wed Kittie and her husband. Although no relatives for Ursula or William have ever been traced in Arroyo Grande, they visited there long enough in 1888 for William to attend a meeting of his IOOF Lodge Brothers and nominate his wife for their sister organization, the Rebekahs. Research in the town of Arroyo Grande has so far, turned up no record of William operating a general store or working for the local dairy. For whatever reason, the Quimbys did not stay long, and moved to the Oakland/San Francisco area.

The San Francisco Years
Most of what is known about Harriet's life in San Francisco was reported in articles either written by herself or in interviews done AFTER she became America's first licensed female pilot in 1911.

Both Harriet and her father appear in San Francisco Directories between 1897 and 1903, suggesting that she occasionally had her own residence. During these years, Harriet was now a young and very pretty girl. She lists her occupation as "actress" on the 1900 San Francisco census, while William is variously listed as an "herbalist" or laborer. Several references claim that Harriet's portrait hung in the prestigious Bohemian Club (a group of colorful and often artistic gentlemen), which was lost in the 1906 earthquake. Although her aspirations were for the stage, she began a more lucrative career writing occasional articles for the San Francisco Bulletin and other publications. Harriet wrote feature articles about the art colonies of Monterey and the customs she observed in San Francisco's Chinatown. By the time Harriet was 25 years old (in 1900) she had developed an intelligent writing style suggesting a solid education. However, school records have never been found.

In 1903, perhaps encouraged by her journalistic successes in San Francisco, Harriet headed for New York to continue her writing career. Once there, her parents followed and moved into their own residence, but Kittie and her husband are no longer mentioned as part of her life.

The New York Years - (1903-1912) The Journalist
A single woman in New York embarking on a career in 1903 needed courage, determination, and talent. Harriet captured the attention of Leslie's Illustrated Weekly and began appearing regularly in their newspaper as a contributing journalist, ultimately becoming a member of the staff. Her articles ranged in scope from household tips ("Home and the Household") to advise for women on how to find a job, budget their income, live prudently on a modest income in a safe apartment and how to repair their own automobiles. She wrote articles for other magazines while contributing to Leslie's, using both male and female pen names. She became well known in New York for her features as a photo-journalist traveling in Cuba, Europe, Egypt, Iceland and Mexico. She was perhaps best known as a drama critic writing Reviews of the stage for Leslie's. Her stories of acrobats, divas and comedians were down-to-earth interviews. During her career with Leslie's she wrote over 250 articles using her own name. In 1906, while on assignment at the Vanderbilt race track, Harriet was taken for a high-speed automobile ride which became the subject an article revealing her zest for speedy machines. Harriet purchased her own car, and advised others to maintain them properly. By the time she was 36, Harriet had conquered New York by living independently, traveling, helping to support her parents, and continually stretching her interests.

The Last Years - The Aviator
In late October 1910, Harriet attended the Belmont Park International Aviation Tournament at Belmont Race Track. There she met Matilde and John Moisant, who with brother Alfred, operated a school for aviators at Mineola. John was a featured flier, representing the United States in the race around the Statue of Liberty. Wrecking his own plane while still on the ground, John purchased a monoplane from another pilot, re-entered the race and beat the competition. His victory made him an American hero. Following this race, Harriet and Matilde were both accepted at the Moisant School of Aviation as students. The Wright Brothers school did not accept women students at this time, and John was no doubt willing to teach his sister, and probably Harriet, for free. But aviation was dangerous and deadly, and John was killed while on exhibition in New Orleans that following December. The New Orleans Daily Picayune newspaper headlines mourned the loss of "the King of Aviators" and the air field near the site of John's fatal fall is still known as Moisant Field. John's death however, did not deter either Matilde or Harriet from entering aviation school the following May.

Although Harriet was now a full-time photo-journalist with a new interest in aviation, she also found time to rekindle friendship with her old friends from the San Francisco theater, David and Linda Griffith. Now making silent films for the Biograph Company in New York, D.W. Griffith purchased scripts from various writers, including Harriet. During 1911, Griffith produced seven films written by Harriet Quimby, making her one of America's first female screenwriters.

The Moisant School on Long Island and the Aviator's Test The Moisant School built monoplanes in the style of the French Bleriot XI and held both ground school and flight training for hopeful pilots. Harriet attended, while continuing her journalism career. Arriving for classes at the crack of dawn, and often covering her feminine clothing with a long duster coat and pilot's helmet, Harriet's endeavor remained low-key but was ultimately discovered by the press. Once discovered, by accident or by design, Harriet became the object of her own newspaper headlines. Leslie's encouraged and supported her efforts, and Harriet continued her studies. On July 31, 1911, after five weeks of lessons involving progressively more control of her aircraft, Harriet took the first of her exams monitored by the Aero Club of America. Matilde Moisant also took the same tests which included figure eights flown above the "aerodrome," as well as altitude, take-off and landing skill requirements. Harriet failed her first landing attempt, but tried again the next day. On August 1, 1911, Harriet Quimby set a landing accuracy record of 7'9" from the mark set for her on the field by the officials, thereby passing the requirements for her pilot's license. She was the first woman in the United States to do so. Matilde soon passed becoming the second to achieve certification. Other female fliers of the day such as Blanche Stuart Scott, who flew a Curtiss bi-plane, often attended aviation events and flew in exhibition but did not apply for a license.

On September 4, 1911, at the Richmond County Fair, Harriet piloted her Moisant built monoplane over the heads of the spectators in the first night flight recorded by a woman Wearing her purple satin flying costume, Harriet made a dramatic impression on the public and soon became New York's "Dresden China Aviatrix." She wrote about her lessons, her test, and her flying exhibitions in Leslie's. She also outlined the "big picture" for the future of aviation, envisioning multi-passenger aircraft with scheduled routes, mail carried by planes around the world, and special uses for aerial photography and mapping.

She also warned of over-confidence and the dangers of flying, cautioning those that were careless and did not make safety a priority. She described checking her own equipment before each flight, and followed her own instincts about weather conditions, where, and when, to fly.

By November, 1911, Harriet and Matilde Moisant joined the Moisant International Aviators Exhibition Team and flew in Mexico City's festivities for the new President, Francisco Madero. While Matilde continued to tour with the troupe in Mexico, Harriet returned to New York and began formulating her plan to be the first woman to pilot her own plane across the English Channel.

The Channel Flight
With Harriet's notoriety came the need for a manager, and she signed on with A. Leo Stevens, an entrepreneur who had designed balloons, parachutes and dirigibles. It was Stevens who helped arranged the details for Harriet's exhibition fees and career moves.

In 1909 Luis Bleriot had become an international celebrity by flying between France and England in his Bleriot monoplane. Harriet aspired to become the first woman to do the same flight, in reverse from Dover, England to Calais, France. Fearful that a European woman would beat her to the record books, Harriet kept her plans a secret. She sailed from New York to England in March 1912, hoping to purchase a two-seat 70hp Bleriot from the factory in France, but there were none available. She borrowed a 50hp single-seat Bleriot XI from Louis Bleriot and sent it to England where she kept a low profile. Bad weather grounded her for several days beyond her anticipated attempt. The mood was grim as the world also leaned that the great ship Titanic had sunk. Additionally, her plans to be the first woman to cross the English Channel in an aeroplane were dashed when a woman flew across as a passenger with pilot, Gustov Hamel. By the time the weather cleared and Harriet was ready to make her trip, Hamel gallantly tested her aircraft before she took off, and even volunteered to make the trip for her in disguise. She refused his offer, but allowed him to give her a compass with instructions on how to keep on course lest she ditch her plane in the North Sea.

Harriet Quimby waved goodbye from Dover on a trip cross the English Channel which could only be described as extremely dangerous and death-defying. Others had wrecked their planes or died attempting the trip before her. But, on Tuesday, April 16, she departed at 5:30 a.m., flying in clouds obstructing her view. 59 minutes later she landed thirty miles from her destination of Calais on a beach near Hardelot, France. Within minutes, the local fishermen toasted her with champagne, and carried her on their shoulders in triumph. The moment was captured in photographs and Harriet looks happy and victorious. In her own words she describes the close of that day in simple terms…"I got into my automobile and motored to Calais…in time to catch a fast train that took me into Paris at seven p.m., a very tired but a very happy woman."

Considering her tremendous accomplishment, Harriet did not earn the attention which drew the world at the feet of Louis Bleriot 3 years earlier. The loss of life aboard the Titanic overshadowed all news stories. In England as well as in the United States, Harriet's historical Channel Crossing received only modest mention.

The Last Air Meet - Massachusetts
Once back in New York, Harriet and her manager, A. Leo Stevens charted her next aviation exhibition for July. Negotiating a fee reported to have been at $100,000, Harriet signed on to appear at the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet at Squantum, near Quincy, Massachusetts. During the week-long event, she was to fly her new two-seater Bleriot monoplane recently shipped from France.

When Harriet arrived on July 1, 1912, William Willard, the event organizer, and his son, Charles, tossed a coin to see who would win the privilege of a flight with Harriet. Willard Senior won the toss and climbed into the passenger seat, casually appointing Earle Ovington as Manger of the meet in case he met with an accident. After a routine flight out to the Boston Light, Harriet circled over the Neponset River and Dorchester Bay as thousands of spectators watched.

While at an altitude of approximately 1500 feet, the plane suddenly pitched forward and Willard was thrown from his seat. Harriet appeared to temporarily gain control of the monoplane, but was thrown out seconds later. Both Harriet and Willard fell to their deaths in the tidal mud flats of the Bay. Just why the plane pitched forward continues to be analyzed and debated to this day. The 1912 Boston Globe suggested lack of seat belts, while Earle Ovington claimed cables from the aircraft tangled the steering mechanisms. Others speculated that Willard, a heavy and excitable man, suddenly leaned forward to speak with Harriet, and was tossed out. Once he was ejected, the empty passenger seat made it impossible for Harriet to regain balance of her machine. When flying her two-seater aircraft alone, Harriet "balanced" the weight with sand bags in the passenger's seat. Although her Bleriot was now empty, it glided downward, until it was overturned in the shallow muddy water. Reports that her plane landed unbroken have been exaggerated through the years, and in fact it was badly damaged.

Harriet Quimby was a superstitious woman who wore lucky jewelry and made it a point never to fly on Sundays. She was independent and visionary, but apparently not actively involved in the movement for women's rights championed by the Suffragettes. In her articles she chose instead to write strongly against child neglect, over-hunting of endangered species such as the egret, and corrupt politics. Her beauty and sense of style made her an attractive public figure, yet she was a private person who left no record of a marriage or children.

Upon Harriet's death, America lost a strong advocate of aviation, believing that the United States was falling behind other nations such as England and France in the development of aircraft, pilot safety, and commercial as well as humanitarian applications. Her pioneering achievements pointed the way for future female pilots many years later such as Amelia Earhart.

Harriet Quimby was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York on July 4, 1912. A year later her remains were moved to her permanent burial site at Kenisco Cemetery at Valhalla, New York. Ironically, Matilde Moisant, her flying exhibition companion, and class-mate at the Moisant school, is buried at Valhalla Cemetery in North Hollywood, California close to a fountain named for Harriet Quimby, America's first licensed female pilot.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Two F-16 women fighter pilots in Norway

Just found this on a website called, which has a message board as well as info about F-16s and their pilots.
Here in Norway there have only been two as far as I know. I am not sure if we have anyone currently flying the F-16 in Norway. I know one of them is not flying F-16 anymore but has gone over to rotors and is flying the Sea King rescue hellicopter. The first female F-16 pilot in Norway got her wings in 1992 (the one that is currently flying the Sea King)

In Norway of course, the market for fighterpilots are smaller than most other countries and is a pretty exclusive club wether you are female or male.

Mette Gr√łtteland who got her wings in 1992 is currently flying the Sea King:

Mette Gr√łtteland

Marianne Mjelde ( Don't know if she is still flying )

and the response from a member of the website:
There's plenty of countries with female Viper drivers. Norway, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, USA, ROKAF,...

Here's some of the information you'll find on them on
Women in and out of Uniform

First female RoKAF F-16 pilot

Female F-16 pilots

First Danish female F-16 pilot takes the sky

First Danish female F-16 pilot takes the sky - Line Bonde

USAFs first female African-American fighter pilot

Thunderbirds' first female pilot announced with new 2006 pilots

First female RoKAF F-16 pilot

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Naima’s dream takes to the skies, World/Pakistan: Naima’s dream takes to the skies

Dubai: It was a dream comes true for the 12-year-old thalassaemia patient, Naima Gul, resident of Mingora, Swat when she became the first female pilot and flew a Lama chopper.

Naima, a grade-4 student, was inducted in the Pakistan Army Aviation Academy after she wrote a letter to Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Chief of the Army Staff of Pakistan, who promptly responded and gave approval to grant her wish taking her as a first aviation lady pilot (honorary) of 9 squadron in Pakistan's Army history.

"I don't know about how long I live but today is the dream day for me" soft-spoken Naima said with great confidence. "I will live for my country and will die for it," she added.

"In whatever capacity my beloved country needs my services I'm ready to perform despite suffering from a killer disease," Naima said.

"I'm lucky to have prompt reply as it gave courage to me and others like me to fight against this deadly disease," added Naima who wants to help patients suffering from the disease by establishing ‘Naima Gul Foundation'.

"I will not be there but through the foundation I want to help out free medication like provision of disprol injection, she said. Naima herself takes this injection once a day for five days a week.

"With my induction as the first lady pilot of Pakistan Army Aviation will certainly give me a chance to create awareness to the thousands of mothers and fathers who didn't know how to face these challenges, she said.

Naima was taken to the simulator room that had a saying inscribed on the wall "He who learns but does not thinks is lost, and he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger." Her instructor Major Zahid briefed her about map marking before she embarked on a mock drill to help rescue and evacuate an injured man during her flight of five nautical miles (9.6km).

Naima was also taken around the base where she was briefed about operational system of the squadron. She also met with the engineers.

In his speech Corps Commander Lt Gen Yasin Malik, Commander 11 Corps, said, "Today we gathered here for a unique aim to fulfil the cherished dream of a Thalassaemia patient, Naima Gul, daughter of great Swat valley, for her induction into Army Aviation."

The wish of Naima Gul is a clear reflection of the respect, recognition and high reverence of people of Swat have towards Pakistan's army. In the recent past, Swat, a place known for its matchless beauty, had suffered in the clutches of terrorists and the people had faced cruelty and brutality.

He said women's role are not only increasing in Pakistan but also in the army where they are working in different departments and are proving their mettle.

Naima Gul's father Zabat Ullah Sohail, her mother Shabana Anjum, her younger sister Roqia Manal were also there and saw Naima while flying the Lama chopper. "I'm a proud man today, as my daughter got the honour of becoming the first lady pilot in Pakistan Army, which has brought peace for the people of Swat," said Sohail.

Shabana, her mother, thanked the Army chief for helping her daughter realise her dreams.

Now with her enrolment as honorary aviation pilot for a day, her treatment would also be free along with her education. "We are happy that Army would carry out all medication and education expenses of Naima," her father said.

Violet Cowden: Sierra Madre man documents women's history (San Gabriel Valley): Sierra Madre man documents women's history
SIERRA MADRE - From the moment Violet Cowden learned to fly, she knew the sky was where she belonged.

Cowden, of Huntington Beach, was never scared to fly a plane - even during her 13-hour training lesson seven decades ago at age 21. For her, the hardest part was coming back to Earth.

"The minute I take off, even in the commercial planes, I am so comfortable," she said.

Cowden was one of the first female pilots to serve in World War II.

"At the time, I wanted to serve - not just the flying part," said the 93-year-old, who shared her story in a new women's history documentary by writer and director Randy Rice of Sierra Madre.

"Being that I already had my private pilot's license, I thought maybe that's what I could do," she added.

Despite her hope to do surveillance of Japanese aircraft off the coast of California, Cowden was restricted to flying in the continental United States because she was a woman. Instead, she flew airplanes from factories to training fields within the United States from 1943 to 1944.

Cowden was among hundreds of female pilots, known as the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), who faced scrutiny for serving in a male-dominated field.

"I did not let that bother me. I just knew that I had a mission to do and I was going to do it - nobody was going to stop me. And I think that's the way I've lived my life," she said.

It was unique stories like Cowden's that Rice wanted to


capture in his six-episode film, "Second to None," which celebrates the untold achievements of American women throughout history.
"I've been really humbled by (doing the film). Each episode is full of things I didn't know before I started," Rice said. "The stuff that's in the documentary isn't in the history books."

The film, which premiered in Los Angeles on March 16, was created as part of Farmers Insurance Group's national education initiative in honor of Women's History Month. It will be sent to classrooms across the nation free-of-charge.

"What impressed me about the videos was that when the women spoke and accomplished what they tried to do... they never demanded it. No, they worked for it," Cowden said about the documentary's other featured females.

"I never knew women were so wonderful," Cowden added, chuckling.

The film highlights the stories of 27 women who have made a difference for women. It showcases important women's issues, from the 1800s to today, including the suffragette movement, female war veterans, and the creation of Title IX, which requires gender equity in all federally funded educational programs, including sports.

In creating the film, Rice realized that even today women still face hurdles because of their gender, despite their advancements.

Even for Cowden, along with hundreds of female WWII pilots, it took more than six decades until she was recognized for her service. She and 300 women received the Congressional Gold Medal on March 10, 2010.

"It's not over. There's still all these subtle prejudices," said Rice, who is also national manager of education programs for Farmers Insurance.

By showing "Second to None" in schools, Rice and Farmers Insurance are hoping to change attitudes and cultural beliefs, he said.

"I came out a better person, more conscious of women of the past and today," Rice added.

The filmmaker hopes that girls watching this documentary will become more confident, while boys will become more aware and sensitive to women's issues.

"Especially the history of women and what they've accomplished, it's going to help a lot of little girls," Cowden said. "I think (the film) will show girls that we can do it."

Farmers Insurance has a goal of sending out 40,000 copies of the documentary to schools nationwide this year. "Second to None" is the fourth documentary Rice has directed for the company.

To get a free copy of the film, educators can visit for details.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Base pilots help make history with all female combat mission

Maj. Tracy Schmidt, 389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, Capt. Kimberly Volk, 389th EFS weapons system officer, Maj. Christine Mau, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing executive officer and an F-15 pilot, and Capt. Jennifer Morton, 389th EFS WSO, pose for the camera before their mission at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on March 29.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)

Mountain Home News (Idaho): Base pilots help make history with all female combat mission

Staff Sgt. Tamara Rhone, 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, waits for Maj. Christine Mau, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing executive officer and an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, and Capt. Jennifer Morton, 389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron weapons system officer, dons their helmet before take-off at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 29, 2011. Members from the 389th EFS helped make the first combat mission to be flown, planned, and maintained entirely by females.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- A team of female Airmen made history here March 30 when the F-15E Strike Eagles of "Dudette 07" blazed down the runway to provide close air support for coalition and Afghan ground forces.
The two-ship formation consisted of all females, two pilots and two weapons system officers, but more importantly, it marked the first combat mission to be planned, maintained and flown entirely by females.

The 366th Fighter Wing's 389th Fighter Squadron, the Thunderbolts, played a major role in the unique mission. Maj. Tracy Schmidt, a 389th FS pilot, and 389th weapons systems officers Capt. Kimberly Volkand and Capt. Jennifer Morton, flew the mission with Maj. Christine Mau, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing executive officer.

The mission represents the first combat sortie on record to involve only female Airmen from the pilots and weapons officers to the mission planners and maintainers, according to Lt. Col. Kenneth Tilley, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing historian.
Although the call sign for the mission may have been lighthearted, the sortie was all business calling for the pilots to travel to the Kunar Valley just west of the Pakistan border in support of a large Army operation that was underway.

"I have flown with female pilots before, but this was the first time I have flown in an all female flight," said 455th AEW executive officer and southern California native, Maj. Christine Mau. "This wasn't a possibility when I started flying 11-years ago."

While planning of the mission required support from women at all levels such as Capt. Kristen Wehle, the F-15 liaison officer at the combined air operations center, those involved evoked memories of legendary Women's Army Corps pilots and others for inspiration.

"Women's History means a celebration of the equality we have today in the military. It makes me think back and find inspiration from heroes like Col. Jeannie Flynn," said Capt. Jennifer Morton, 389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron weapons officer.

In 1993, then 2nd Lt. Jeannie Flynn became the first female F-15E pilot. Although the Air Force permitted female pilots to enter pilot training in 1976, Lieutenant Flynn went on to become the first female fighter pilot to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.

"Since 1993 we have had Air Force female pilots in combat positions, and because of that today I feel as a woman I can have whatever job I want," said Capt. Morton a Huntington Beach, Calif., native deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

While Dudette 07 was set up to as an all female mission in honor of Women's History Month, Major Mau pointed out inspiration for today's Airmen aspiring to great heights can come from many different places.

"I think I get a great deal of inspiration from my grandmother (who was a mother seven kids), but many of my role models today are males," she said.

In addition, the pilots never forget the contributions of the maintainers on the ground, like Airmen 1st Class Casiana Curry, who enlisted Sept. 11, 2009, and enables the continued support of the warfighters on the ground.

"The four women officers represents only a portion of the women who supported this mission making it the first all-female -- from tasking to completion -- combat sortie to date," said Dayton, Ohio native and Dudette 07 operations supervisor Capt. Leigh Larkin.

"I thought it was kind of cool and something that I have never seen before. The women throughout time have paved the way for us today and they made it possible for us to be equal as well as respected as individuals," said 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, Staff Sgt. Tamara Rhone. "Females are a rare breed on the flight line. It is my hope that more females step up and join the maintenance career field."

Although it has only been 18 years since the repeal of the combat exclusion law, the women of today's Air Force are filling vital roles in the success of combat missions throughout the world.

"In reality, we get somewhat uncomfortable when people make a "big deal" out of an all female crew. We are all here because we love what we do and we want to support the mission just the same as any male aircrew member. We are all fighter aircrew, and that is how we identify ourselves, not as male or female, said 389th EFS F-15 pilot and Longmont, Colo., native Maj. Tracy Schmidt. "If you ask any male in our squadron what they thought about us as female aircrew, they would also say, 'Uh I never really considered that, they are just one of us.'"

During those 18 years since Lieutenant Flynn took off on that first flight, times have changed, but female Airmen never forget the sacrifices for their equality or that they serve as role models for the next generation of Airmen.

"On the other hand, while this is normal everyday life to us, we forget sometimes that we are still a very small minority in this community, and we do appreciate the fact that other women in the world are still proud to see women doing this kind of thing.

"I've talked to quite a few older women who said they would have loved to fly jets but never had the opportunity when they were younger, and I also know that there are plenty of young girls out there who may not know that this is an option for them," said Maj. Schmidt.

"While I generally try to avoid being highlighted as a female, I am happy to be a role model or inspiration or whatever you want to call it for other women, when opportunities like this present themselves."