Monday, June 27, 2011

Wright Plane Visited Grosse Pointe a Century Ago

Grosse Pointe Patch: Wright Plane Visited Grosse Pointe a Century Ago
By Elizabeth M. Vogel
One hundred years ago, Grosse Pointers had an early opportunity to see a Wright Airplane. This event not only catapulted the influence of Grosse Pointers into the national and international spotlight, but it also presented for the first time, a debate that was beginning to cause a national stir: should women fly planes?

The Detroit Aero Club

In a slideshow and brief history written for the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, John A. Bluth outlines the early history of aviation in the region, which was formed by many prominent Grosse Pointers.

"William E. 'Bill' Metzger a prescient investor in bicycles and automobiles was also early to recognize the future potential of aviation. With Aero Clubs being formed all over the country, the well-connected Metzger sold the idea to establish an Aero Club to further Detroit's aviation activities. The kick-off meeting took place the evening of Dec. 16, 1909 at the Pontchartrain Hotel. All of the top auto industry and business leaders were invited. To stimulate interest in the event, Russell A. Alger, a community pillar and a Packard Motor and Wright Airplane Co. investor, invited the Wright brothers to Detroit to attend the meeting. The Wrights were under considerable pressure to come to Detroit…All told 75 prominent Detroiters showed up at the Pontchartrain that Thursday night.”

According to Bluth, “The stature of the Detroit Aero Club was demonstrated the following year when it took over the Grosse Pointe Golf Club on June 19, 1911, for three days of flying, during the height of the golf season. Russell Alger, president of the Aero Club, had arranged for a Wright Flyer airplane and a pilot to come to Detroit and give demonstration rides to Aero Club members and their families.”

The cost, Bluth contends, was astronomical. “The Wright plane cost $7,500 in a time when manufacturing jobs paid .39 cents an hour and senior clerks earned about $1,136 annually.”

The plane was so new, so exhilarating, and so out-of-reach to most people, that money—for those who had it—was not about to get in the way of trying out this wild new sport.

Despite not being a very fast or long airplane ride, Bluth continues, “the 1911 airplane did offer sportsmen the thrill of an utterly new experience with the added cachet of a bit of danger thrown in. At a time when most Americans had never seen an airplane, dozens of Grosse Pointers had actually flown through the air and thousands more on the ground witnessed the miracle of flight.”

The Wright plane that was brought in was piloted by one of the original five pilots from the Wright Brother’s flying exhibition team, Frank R. Coffyn. Research by Suzy Berschback and Ann Marie Aliotta found an article in the Winnipeg Free Press dated July 11, 2011 regarding Coffyn’s stature in the flying community, “Coffyn has made himself a name all over the continent as the steadiest of the bird men—witness the fact that that last month at Detroit he carried in three days as many as 45 passengers, 12 of them ladies.”

The Wadsworths

Many prominent Grosse Pointers flew that June weekend, but one woman in particular was already making headlines—a full three weeks prior to the event. Mary Mannering and her soon-to-be husband's headline-producing antics had nothing to do with airplanes, but rather to dispel salacious rumors regarding a more personal matter. On June 2, 1911, the headline from the New York Times confirmed the news: ‘Mary Mannering is Mrs. Wadsworth.’

Their wedding came very fast by the day’s standards and was the subject of gossip in high society—both had been recently divorced and had children. Indeed, Mr. Wadsworth’s ex-wife indicated abuse on his part. To make matters even more newsworthy, according to the New York Times article they had applied for a license to marry very quickly, and even surprised their closest friends with the news.

Mannering was a prominent stage actress at the turn of the century: “Miss Mannering’s real name is Florence Freund. She is of English birth, and began her state career at the age of 15… she then became a pupil of Herman Vezin, an American actor and played a number of Shakespearean parts through the English provinces. Daniel Frohman saw her in a comedy called ‘The Late Mr. Costello’ and engaged her to come to America as a member of his Lyceum Theatre Company.”

Mr. Wadsworth was the president of the Michigan Steel Boat Company, which later produced a boat-plane hybrid called the Flying Fish.

The question of the timing of their marriage remains a mystery: was it rushed so they could attend the flying meet as a respectable married couple? Or perhaps was it a honeymoon gift from Mr. Wadsworth to his new bride? Whatever the case, their speedy nuptials seem to be tied inextricably to this Grosse Pointe aviation event.

Indeed, it was Mrs. Wadsworth, of all the ladies, who had the most fun flying. In a report mentioned by Claudia M. Oakes, “Coffyn apparently realized after several days of taking women up as passengers that he need not fly sedately around the golf course to keep from frightening them. When Mary Manning Wadsworth, an actress of the day, flew with Coffyn, he engaged in a race with a passing motorist, much to Mrs. Wadsworth's delight.”

The photographs of her after the flight speak for themselves.

Women flying, a novelty or a reality?
Oakes, who authored United States Women in Aviation through World War I which was produced for the Smithsonian Studies in Air and Space, No. 2 in 1978 documented the Grosse Pointe flying event in detail, as well. The Detroit Free Press headline for Tuesday, June 20, 1911, read, “Michigan Aero Club is Holding First Aviation Meet on Country Club’s Grosse Pointe Golf Links," and an even larger headline on the front page read, “Three Detroit Women Venture in Biplane.” Clearly the early interest in flying for women was causing a stir.

According to Oakes, “By the time the meet ended, the newspaper was calling the women who flew ‘superwomen’ for their courage in making airplane flights. A reporter also predicted, correctly, that ‘Ought women to aviate?’ would become a social issue of the day.”

In an interesting twist, in the very same year that the first aviation meet was held in Grosse Pointe, an Austrian Professor made some wild conclusions as to why he actually thought women would make better pilots than men.

“Professor Rudolph Hensingmüller of Vienna published a list of reasons why he believed women were better pilots than men were. Some of his reasons, which were regarded as so ludicrous that they were immediately held up to ridicule, were: ‘because she has retained the primitive faculty of seeing with full retina; enforced modesty and flirting have caused this; because she has scattered attention instead of concentration; this is invaluable to an aviator who must notice many things at once; because she has the faculty of intuition—that quality of the mind which can take in a number of causes simultaneously and induce a conclusion—an essential in aviation; because her specific gravity is less than man's; because she needs less oxygen and therefore can better meet the suffocating rush of air; altitude affects her less than it does man; because her sneezes, in man an actual spasm, have been controlled by ages of polite repression, because she feels more quickly warning atmospheric changes; because she loves to speed.’”

Indeed, many of Hensingmüller’s assessments were undoubtedly cast away as nonsense—even in 1911—but as a female student pilot myself, I can assure you his final, and perhaps most reasonable, conclusion, “because she loves to speed,” does, in fact, have merit.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

PR: BERINGER Introduces Nosewheel Solution for Van's RV-10

Press Release: BERINGER Introduces Nosewheel Solution for Van's RV-10

Tallard, France: BERINGER Wheels & Brakes®, the high-performance leaders in
light aircraft wheels and brakes, announces a new nosewheel and axle
solution for the popular Van's RV-10.

The new nosewheel kit includes the lightweight BERINGER wheel and a mounted
tubeless tire, plus the unique 1-piece thru-axle and associated parts and
hardware necessary for the installation.

Builders have long battled the setup of the nose wheel, which, in the
original configuration, often results in either
too-tight or too-loose fitment, resulting in poor ground handling or excess

Not only is the sensitive problem of front-axle tension eliminated with the
BERINGER thru-axle, the use of low-resistance ball bearings (instead of the
usual tapered rollers) noticeably reduces rolling resistance. While this may
not shorten your takeoff roll, you will appreciate it when you're parking
your RV after a long flight.

Retail is $649, and includes high-strength aluminum axle and spacer, plus
the assembled wheel assembly with mounted and pressure-tested Michelin tire.
9.1 pounds, total.

Beringer wheels feature sealed lifetime ball bearings, high-strength
aluminum axles, and a tubeless tire design, saving weight and lowering
temperature buildup while reducing the chance of a blowout.

Beringer will exhibit at Oshkosh, Booth # 437, and the company plans to
offer an "exchange rate discount" for customers who pay with dollars. (The
amount will depend on the prevailing exchange rate.)

Spare and replacement parts are readily available in the USA through
Aircraft Spruce.

BERINGER Wheels & Brakes
Aéropôle Champ Eymi
05130 Tallard
Tel: +33 492 201 619
FAX: +33 492 526 966


Aerial Age Weekly, September 20, 1915 transcript, pt 1

I have access to a couple of early bound volumes of Aerial Age Weekly - unfortunately starting with Volume 2, not Volume 1! However, since these magazines are in the public domain (everything in the US published prior to 1923 is) I thought I'd transcribe the issues here.

The first article in this issue (Sep 20, 1915, Vol II, no. 1) is an open letter to Henry Ford, "Henry Ford's Proposal to Substitute the Jitney Bus for the Ship of State Dcored." It makes for interesting reading (Some Americans, including the writer of this article, wanted the US to be prepared for war, Ford was prepared to spend a million dollars to stop them) but I first want to research Ford's exact statements, and present them in conjunction with this article. That's going to take a couple of days.

So we'll move on to general news paragraphs.
Twenty Martin Seaplanes for Dutch Government
Dispatches from Los Angeles announce that Glenn L. Martin has scored a new and valuable achievement in the perfection of the new model T. A. Martin seaplane.

This is an unusually efficient and dependable machine, as is evidenced by the fact that two new records have already been made with it. Lieutenant ter Poorten, of the Dutch Aviation Corps, broke the Los Angeles-San Diego non-stop round-trip record with it, making the 224 miles in three hours and 25 minutes.

Lieutenant ter Poorten and Captain Visscher also officially broke the passenger hydroaeroplane altitude record. They attained an altitude of 7,500 feet, and were up one hour thirty minutes. The record in this flight was taken by Captain Arthur Cowan, of the I.S. Army Aviation Corps.

The new machine was subjected to several severe tests, among other trials carrying a one-half ton load of merchandise.

Agents of The Netherlands who witnessed the various tests were highly pleased with the behavior of the new seaplane, and are purchasing twenty machines for early delivery.

Vincent Astor Makes Flight in His New Flyning Boat
Vincent Astor, on Thursday, made two flights at Marblehead in his new flying boat. Both flights were successful, and Mr. Astor seemed greatly pleased. Among the hundreds of spectators who witnessed his first flight was his wife, who, after congratulating her husband for his good work, took a train to Newport.

"Cliff" Webster acted as Astor's pilot. The first flight was made shortly after 9 o'clock, and another was made near noon. On the first flight, after planing about the harbor, the machine was driven to an altitude of about 500 feet.

Harry Payne Whitney's Hydro-aeroplane Passes Test
Harry Payne Whitney's 100-horsepower Burgess-Dunne hydro-aeroplane has finished its tests at Marblehead, and will be shipped to the Whitney estate at Roslyn, L.I. [Long Island] this week.

The hydro-aeroplane is in appearance almost identical with that built by the Burgess company for Vincent Astor.

Mr. Whitney plans to use the maching at his country home at Roslyn, L. I.. Mr. Clifford Webster will accompany the hydro to Long Island, and will instruct Mr. Whitney in its operation.

Dayton Wants the Factory
Orville Wright has signified his intention of giving up the manufacture aeroplanes and devoting his time to the development of the aeroplane motor. From this announcement residents of Dayton have arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Wright may sell and the business may be moved to another city, and the Greater Dayton Association has started a movement to keep the industry in that city.

More transcriptions will follow on a thrice-weekly basis.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PR: America's Youngest Licensed Pilot Featured in DVD

“Pearl” depicts Chickasaw Native Eula Carter Scott

Aurora, Colorado: Denver-based web retailer Powder Puff Pilot is proud to announce that "Pearl," the award-winning feature-length film produced by the Chickasaw Nation, is now available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray. Powder Puff Pilot founder, Sue Hughes, described the film as, “the perfect addition to our line of products that celebrate women in aviation.”

The family-friendly film tells the true story of the youngest licensed pilot in American history, focusing on the adventurous teen years of the late aviatrix Eula "Pearl" Carter Scott. The Chickasaw native of Oklahoma earned her pilot’s license at age 14 in 1928.

In the film, Pearl—portrayed by California actress Elijah DeJesus—develops a love of flying after meeting the famous aviator Wiley Post in the 1920s. Impressed by her enthusiasm and determination to learn flying, Pearl's father, a successful businessman in Marlow, Oklahoma, buys her a plane and hires a flight instructor.

After earning her pilot's license, Pearl flies her blind father to business appointments and amazes air show audiences all over Oklahoma with her aerobatic maneuvers. She was one of the only two pilots Post trusted to fly his Lockheed Vega aircraft "Winnie Mae."

The film officially premiered on May 4, 2010 in Moore, Oklahoma, at an event attended by many Chickasaw cast members, including dozens of Chickasaw citizens, Chickasaw Nation employees, and community members featured as extras. Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby described the young aviatrix’s story as a natural for the tribe's first feature-length film project, "Pearl was a dynamic, determined, and caring individual who exemplified many of the finest qualities of Chickasaw people."

Since last year’s release, “Pearl" has garnered many accolades from audiences and film industry insiders, including:

1 Best overall film and best Native American film at the 2010 Trail Dance Film Festival

2 One of only 13 feature films chosen among more than 600 submissions to the Heartland Film Festival, one of the world’s largest family-oriented film festivals

3 "Best of Show" award from The Indie Fest, and a sweep of the feature docudrama category at the International Cherokee Film Festival

4 Four "Doves" from the Dove Foundation, earning its "Family-Approved Seal" for all ages

To order a copy of “Pearl” on DVD or Blu-ray, visit .

Monday, June 20, 2011

Alabama: Mobile pilots take part in 35th Air Race Classic Mobile pilots take part in 35th Air Race Classic
MOBILE, Alabama — When 50 planes with 105 female team members land at Brookley Field June 24-25 to complete the Air Race Classic 2011, two Mobile pilots will be among them.

The 35th annual air race for women pilots begins June 21 in Iowa City, Iowa, and Amelia “Mimi” Reiheld and Linda Keller will make up Team Number 6, the “Azalea City Avgals.”

Co-pilot Reiheld grew up in Spring Hill, attended Mary B. Austin Elementary School and graduated from Murphy High School. Her father was the late Roy Thigpen, a well-known Mobile photographer; her brother, Alec, is also a photographer in Mobile. Reiheld now lives with her husband, Rob, in what she describes as “pretty, historic little Edenton, N.C.”

Though she’s removed from the Gulf Coast by geography, she returns to Mobile fairly often to visit family, and “whenever my Mooney 231’s wings cross that lovely delta, I feel very much at home again,” she writes in the team’s blog,

Linda Keller, who will pilot her N5174L 1967 Cherokee 180 “Miss Lima” in the race, lives in west Mobile.

“As the saying goes,” she says in the blog, “ ‘I’m not from here, but I got here as fast as I could.' " She moved to Mobile nine years ago after crisscrossing America “from midwest to northwest to southeast to midwest back to the southeast.”

Reiheld came by her love of flying as a passenger in her father’s plane as he did his work as an aerial photographer. And, she said, “I consider it such a privilege to be flying.”

She is a part of Angel Flight Soars, a humanitarian effort that provides free air transportation for people who have a medical need that can’t be filled in their local area. (See .)

Keller said that for many years she was happy just to be a passenger in a plane piloted by her father-in-law, Ace Keller, a retired Air Force pilot.

She learned to fly “after the awful age of 40,” and often flies with her husband, Bruce, also a pilot. She is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Charles Hayes Real Estate and is an avid tennis player.

Flying in the race is very expensive, and the women have some sponsors whose donations will help finance the venture.

But, Reiheld said, “We could use additional sponsorship.” Twenty percent of all donated funds will be given to Angel Flight Soars, Reiheld said.

Along the race route, the all-female teams of flyers will make stops in North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas.

The Air Race Classic Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated “to encouraging current and future pilots, increasing public awareness of general aviation, demonstrating women’s awareness of general aviation and preserving and promoting the tradition of pioneering women in aviation,” according to the group’s mission statement.

Warbirdz Magazine March 2011 Now Available for iPad

prMac (Press Release): Warbirdz Magazine March 2011 Now Available for iPad
Canberra, AU Jun 06, 2011 in Books

[] Canberra, Australia - A brand new magazine is now available on iPad for the Warbird lover. Via the new Warbirdz bookshelf readers with an interest in military and warbird aviation can now access a brand new magazine designed specifically for them. With a broad range of information and fantastic photographs this magazine will definitely be interesting.

The term Warbird is used to describe vintage military aircraft. Although the term originally implied piston-driven aircraft from the World War II era, it is now often extended to include all military aircraft, including jet-powered aircraft, that are no longer in military service. has supplied a place on the internet for those who enjoy military aircraft and warbirds to gather since 2002 where they can show off their images and chat about warbirds and military aircraft.

The idea for our Warbirdz magazine was born from that forum. There are many magazines out there that focus on specific aviation interests, but Warbirdz Magazine brings together information about current military aircraft and the older warbirds in a beautifully put together collection of news, information, and great pictures for under $5 an edition that has now been made available on the iPad via the new Warbirdz Bookshelf available in the Apple Store.

Device Requirements:
* Compatible with iPad
* Requires iOS 3.2 or later
* 3.2 MB

Pricing and Availability:
Warbirdz 1.0 is free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Books category. Once the bookshelf is installed, Magazines are then available via the In App Purchase option or Paypal. Additionally, readers have an option to sign up via the bookself and if they sign in new magazines will appear in their bookshelf as they are released, allowing them to purchase the edition if they choose.

Model plane pilots worry over looming regulation

WSLS10: Model plane pilots worry over looming regulation

Pilot Matthew Shimchock loves being behind the controls of his warbird. "You can have the same effect of having several of these warbirds up in the air at the same time, flying in formation, chasing each other around," he said.

It's a hobby he and the one hundred members of the Roanoke Valley Radio Control Club take seriously. "As little as a few hundred dollars or you can spend several thousand dollars
and several hundred hours of your free time putting together models."

And more people across the country are doing it. So much so, the Federal Aviation Administration is getting involved and looking into regulating unmanned aircraft systems and possibly setting strict limits on the model planes."How high we go, how fast we can go, how far we can go," Shimchock explained.

The FAA says its concern is safety, the safety of more than 100,000 aviation operations a day, including commercial air traffic and cargo operations. Radio control pilots argue their pastime is safe. "They fly from one point and return to the same point and usually flying around in a very fixed, controlled area," Shimchock said.

The FAA expects to rule by the end of the year, leaving Shimchock to appeal to his congressman and hoping the federal agency won't come down too hard on remote pilots.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Booklist: Callsign Revlon

Call Sign Revlon: The Life and Death of Navy Fighter Pilot Kara Hultgreen, by Sally Spears

In October 1994 Navy Lt. Kara Hultgreen died when her F-14 fighter jet crashed into the ocean during an attempt to land aboard an aircraft carrier. As the first woman to fly the high-powered Tomcat in a fighter squadron, Hultgreen was already a visible figure in the debate over whether women should serve in combat, and her death only intensified that debate. After her crash, sources within the Navy released documents to show that Hultgreen was an unqualified pilot who got through training because she was a woman. Hultgreen's supporters countered that the documents were incomplete and grossly misleading. Four years after the tragic mishap, Hultgreen's mother, a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, presents this work not as a tool of persuasion, but as the biography of a young pioneer. In many ways, it is a deeply engaging portrait. Drawing extensively from her daughter's letters and diaries, Spears shows the intense motivation and high energy of a young woman whose life was geared toward her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. A swaggering hell-raiser with a wicked sense of humor, Hultgreen pummeled her drunken assailant when groped at Tailhook. But Spears also includes considerable fluff: one chapter titled "Pamela" seems designed to settle a score with a friend who inexplicably dropped Hultgreen when her career declined. Ultimately, the most interesting chapters are those addressing the question of whether Hultgreen was truly qualified to be flying the F-14. With more substantive reporting, Spear might have offered a persuasive case on her daughter's behalf. 29 illustrations.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pilot: Ill-fated B-17 ‘a tragic loss’

DailyHerald: Pilot: Ill-fated B-17 ‘a tragic loss’

Pilot John Shuttleworth has logged more than 300 hours manning the cockpit of the ill-fated Liberty Belle B-17 and is sad he won’t have the chance to add any more.

Shuttleworth, who has flown several planes for the Liberty Foundation, including events at the Aurora Municipal Airport, called the WW II-era aircraft a national treasure. He said receiving news it was destroyed by fire this week was “gut-wrenching.”

The restored B-17 was en route from Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove to an airport near Indianapolis when the crew began to smell smoke. The plane made an emergency landing in a field near Oswego and burst into flames a short time later.

All seven people aboard escaped, but the bomber was destroyed.

“I’ve heard about the situation and have been in contact with the (Liberty) foundation. It truly is a real shame to lose such a significant piece of our nation’s history,” Shuttleworth said Tuesday from Columbus, Ohio. “This airplane being destroyed is a tragic loss. It’s right up there with losing a national park.”

Shuttleworth also praised the pilot, who officials still refuse to identify, for getting the plane down safely and evacuating everyone on board.

“The plane was made to land on rough surfaces so landing on grass or in a field is not a big deal for a B-17,” he said. “But getting in position to find a good field of proper length and approach was great execution on the pilot’s part. They did a great job.”

Tim Sorensen, an air-safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board for the past nine years based out of the DuPage Airport in West Chicago, said the crew of the B-17 had smelled smoke and was trying to find the source when they were alerted by another plane that their aircraft was on fire. The fire apparently began in the bomber’s No. 2 engine, closest to the fuselage on the left side of the aircraft.

Investigators will examine the plane as well as pilot and maintenance records before issuing a report in about a week, Sorensen said. A final report could take more than nine months.

Sorensen and others said there were maintenance issues over the weekend that kept the B-17 crew from offering rides to the public, but the pilots determined it was safe to fly Monday.

Shuttleworth said he never questioned the maintenance of any of the Liberty Foundation’s planes, especially the Liberty Belle.

“I know that airplane was impeccably maintained. There are never any corners cut,” Shuttleworth said. “That’s the best part about flying for the foundation; you know you’ll always have a solid piece of equipment to fly.”

Even with the loss of the Liberty Belle, Shuttleworth said the foundation will now “focus and solidify its energy” on the restoration of a new, recently acquired B-17.

“Hopefully in another 10 years, we’ll have another plane up there to take veterans and the public up in,” Shuttleworth said. “That’s the goal.”

Officials from the Liberty Foundation did not return phone calls Tuesday.

According to the Experimental Aircraft Association, based in Oshkosh, Wis., 12,731 B-17s were built and about 50 remain.

Shuttleworth said the Liberty Belle was one of only 14 remaining flight-worthy airframes.

“Several others exist but they’ve been demolished beyond the point of usefulness,” he said. “Of those 14, only eight or nine are flying in the United States and they’re not flying much more than once or twice a year.”

Booklist: Wings Around the World

WINGS AROUND THE WORLD: The Exhilarating Story of one Woman's Epic Flight from the North Pole to Antarctica, by Polly Vacher

Polly Vacher wanted to become the first pilot to complete a solo flight around the world via both Poles in a single-engine aircraft. Her 60,000 mile voyage would take her to every continent. She prepared meticulously for two years and had garnered multifarious sponsors.

However, as she took off, flanked by a Hurricane and a Spitfire, and waved off by her family and the Prince of Wales, she suddenly felt so alone. She had begun a remarkable expedition that would gain her three world records, but would also see her encounter extremes of weather and emotion, kindness, obstruction and also a little political intrigue.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Booklist: Spreading My Wings

SPREADING MY WINGS: One of Britain's Top Women Pilots Tells Her Remarkable Story from Pre-war Flying to Breaking the Sound Barrier, by Diana Barnato Walker

The daughter of millionaire racing driver, Woolf Barnato, and granddaughter of Barney Barnato who cofounded the De Beers mining company, by 1936 Diana had had enough of her affluent, chaperoned existence and sought excitement in flying, soloing at Brooklands after only six hours' training. She has followed her own instincts ever since.

Joining the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941 to help ferry aircraft to squadrons and bases throughout the country, she flew scores of different aircraft - fighters, bombers, and trainers - in all kinds of conditions and without radio it has to be remembered.

She lost many friends, a fiance' and a husband before 1945 but continued to fly. In 1962 she was awarded the Jean Lennox Bird Trophy for notable achievement in aviation and then - her greatest moment - in 1963 flew a Lightning through the sound barrier becoming 'the fastest woman in the world'. She was awarded the MBE in 1965.

Her remarkable memoirs, lauded when first published in hardback, are now available in paperback. Brimming with adventure, anecdotes and famous names, the book makes compelling reading. It is the story of a very special woman who, now in her eighties, continues to live life to the full from her home in Surrey.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Introduction to flying Introduction to flying
By Colleen Rustad,
For the Argus-Courier

The Marin chapter of the 99s, an international organization of women pilots, is introducing Petaluma Girl Scout troops to the world of aviation and sharing a perspective on the world that can only be experienced from thousands of feet above the Earth.

The 99s was established in 1929 by 99 women pilots. The mission of the organization is to promote the advancement of aviation through education, scholarship opportunities and networking while sharing their passion for flight and preserving the unique history of women in aviation.

Amelia Earhart was the first president of the 99s. Today, the organization represents women in all areas of aviation including commercial pilots, helicopter pilots and air traffic controllers.

The Marin 99s is a tightly knit group of 17 pilots, most of whom fly out of the Petaluma Municipal Airport. Cindy Pickett, chairwoman for 15 years and a pilot for 20 years, says that her chapter is known for “not being big on meetings, but just loving to fly.”

In winter and spring, a group of three to six planes fly to coastal destinations such as Half Moon Bay, Eureka or Monterey. In summer and fall, the 99s take long weekends flying to Colorado, Mexico or Alaska.

The motto of the Marin 99s, “Women Flying with a Passion,” extends to reaching out to communities in need. “After the recent tornadoes, I made contact with a woman in Alabama and through the network of the 99s, I was able to put together a relief effort that collected a week's worth of supplies and clothing,” says Pickett. “After Hurricane Katrina, we sent 484 packages to a shelter.”

Eager to share her love of flying and educate young women about aviation, Pickett contacted Petaluma area Girl Scout leaders to invite their troops to tour the Petaluma Municipal Airport and learn about aviation careers as part of Aviation Week in March.

The outreach to the Girl Scouts resulted in 37 girls at all levels of scouting touring the airport, watching demonstrations and having some classroom time on flight science. Pickett even took one of the older cadets flying.

In her presentation, Pickett tells the girls that there are many reasons for becoming a pilot. “I started flying because my husband and I had a love of the national parks and geography. Flying was a way to get to more of these remote places. You get to see the richness of the planet and a broad sense of the footprint of humanity,” says Pickett.

Brenda Verza, leader of a Junior troop of seven Petaluma fourth-graders, says that the meeting was a great opportunity for the girls to learn about all the aspects of aviation, from planning a flight, which includes maintenance and mapping, to actually sitting in Pickett's plane and touching the instrument panel and talking on the radio.

The Marin 99s plans to continue their aviation education through one-on-one programs with Girl Scout Cadets who are typically 12 years old. The girls will be able to earn an aviation badge.

Currently, only 6 percent of pilots are women. Pickett emphasizes that now is a particularly good time for young women interested in flying to become pilots because many commercial pilots are reaching 65, the mandatory age for retirement, so there will be increased demand for pilots coming through the ranks.

Pickett says that anyone who is interested should contact the Petaluma Municipal Airport, which she says has a wonderful community of pilots, and talk to people in flight school.

“Also, get in touch with the 99s. All of us are dedicated to mentoring and promoting any woman's interest in flight,” she said.

More information about the organization is available at

Booklist: Jackie Cochran: Pilot in the Fastest Lane

Jackie Cochran: Pilot in the Fastest Lane , by Doris L. Rich
When asked by Amelia Earhart's husband what her ambitions were, Jackie Cochran sneered, "To put your wife in the shade." Cochran succeeded. History has proven Earhart to be the favorite, but Cochran undoubtedly was the superior pilot: determined to be not just the best woman pilot but to be the best pilot, period, she broke countless aviation records for speed, altitude and distance. In this biography, Rich (Amelia Earhart) documents the life of the first woman to break the sound barrier and who was instrumental in creating a fleet of female pilots (which she helmed) in World War II. Along the way, she also created a cosmetics company for which the motto was "Wings to Beauty." That's not to say that Cochran was always likable. She was scheming, manipulative and known to bend the truth so it would work to her advantage. Rich thoroughly researched Cochran's life, a challenge given that Cochran frequently created facts to best suit her needs (she said, for instance, that she was an orphan, a claim that has been disputed by her family). Aeronautics buffs will appreciate the details of the aircraft Cochran flew, and while the drama of Cochran's many harrowing flights and near-miss accidents is never fully realized, Rich gives Cochran her rightful place in aviation history.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Booklist: From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler's Bunker

From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler's Bunker , by Dennis Piszkieewicz
(note, this book has been reviewed by 4 people on, each of whom give it one star and claim its poorly written and biased against Reitsch)
This is the amazing story of Hanna Reitsch, a woman who excelled in an environment that for most was extremely repressive--Germany before and during World War II. She achieved personal success when she escaped the culturally defined role of wife and mother in Nazi Germany to live her passion for flying. Reitsch began her career flying gliders, setting both distance and endurance records in the 1930s. As the war approached she became a test pilot for new and dangerous aircraft for the Luftwaffe. The aircraft she flew included a large number of gliders and military aircraft, including Focke-Achgelis FW 61 Hubschrauber (the first practical helicopter), the jet-powered piloted version of the V-1 buzz bomb, and the rocket-powered Messerschmitt 163. Her achievements as a test pilot made her a celebrity in Nazi Germany and earned her an Iron Cross and the friendship of Hitler. As a friend of the Fuehrer, she became an eyewitness to the fall of the Third Reich. In the final days of World War II, she flew with her friend and lover, Luftwaffe General Robert Ritter von Greim--to join Hitler in his bunker. Minutes before Hitler was to marry Eva Braun, Reitsch and von Greim--on Hitler's orders--flew from Berlin to Rechlin in a desperate attempt to rally the Luftwaffe and save the Reich. After the war, Reitsch was interviewed as a potential witness for the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Her interviewer stated that "[Hanna's] account of the flight into Berlin to report to Hitler and of her stay in the Fuehrer's bunker is probably as accurate a one as will be obtained of those last days."

It has remained so for half a century. This book also recounts a vivid and remarkable encounter in a cemetery in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in June of 1945, between Leni Riefenstahl, the filmmaker, perhaps the only other woman to be so successful in the Third Reich, and Hanna Reitsch. During this chance encounter, Hanna shows the letters of Josef and Magda Goebbels to Riefenstahl and the reader shares their shocking contents. Hanna Reitsch found in the Nazi establishment opportunities and rewards for her achievements. Consorting with the devil paid well; yet, in the end, she was called on to pay back more than she had received. Her story shows how hard it is for a woman to excel in a repressive society, and how that success can lead to defeat and misery.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Booklist: Takeoff!: The Story of America's First Woman Pilot for a Major Airline

Takeoff!: The Story of America's First Woman Pilot for a Major Airline, by Bonnie Tiburzi

Bonnie Tiburzi, at twenty-four, broke the sex barrier in commercial aviation by becoming the first woman pilot ever hired by a major United States airline. Takeoff! is her own candid story of how she won her wings - the high price she paid in hard work, disappointment, and personal heartache - and why she feels it was worth it. It is also a fascinating behind-the-scenes story of the real world of aviation, which few passengers ever see - inside-the-simulator and inside-the-cockpit glimpses of major airline training, apprenticeship, on-the-line operations, camaraderie with pilots and flight attendants, and very occasional nerve-shattering danger. Bonnie Tiburzi grew up in a flying family. She had flying lessons at the age of twelve and received a license at nineteen. She knew early on that what she really wanted to be was an airline pilot, but when she had earned enough flying hours to admit it out loud, the reply was always "Don't be silly. Airlines only hire men."

She relates her experiences as a pigtailed charter pilot for customers like Ted Williams and the long, often frustrating struggle to open that first airline door. Once inside, the problems didn't stop: consider designing a uniform for just one, competing in training with only men and military veterans, and being mistaken for a flight attendant, a purser, a bell-hop or even bus driver. Takeoff! is a marvelously entertaining and revealing story never told before. There's food for thought here. "My being a woman in the cockpit, that bastion of masculinity, was more of a problem for the men than it was for me," writes Ms. Tiburzi. "I was used to male flyers. They weren't used to me!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Booklist: A WASP Among Eagles: A Woman Military Test Pilot in World War II

A WASP Among Eagles: A Woman Military Test Pilot in World War II , by Ann B. Carl

A jet-age pioneer, Carl was the only American woman to test-fly experimental planes during WWII and the first woman to fly a jet. She was one of about a thousand WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots), women military flyers on the home front, whoAwith zero publicity and very low statusAferried planes to bases, served as flight instructors and test-piloted repaired aircraft. This extraordinary memoir is a spirited, timely story about staying aloft in a male-dominated profession.

The WASPs learned that they had to look out for themselves, checking the planes for defects, befriending mechanics and passing the hat to pay for the funerals of the 38 women aviators who lost their lives. (Congress would not pass legislation making female military pilots full-fledged members of the Air Force until 1977.) The author, who married astronautical engineer Major William Carl just after V-E Day, test-piloted planes like the B-29 Superfortress bomber. In 1944, she made history evaluating the Bell YP-59A jet fighter at the Wright-Patterson test center in Dayton, Ohio, where soft-spoken Orville Wright was a frequent guest, ushering in the age of jet propulsion.

The writing is a bit pedestrian, and this autobiography may lack the romantic flair of other aviatrix' memoirs, but when Carl gets down to reliving hazardous assignments or describing the sheer magic of flying, her narrative is bracing and enthralling. Her resilience and energy are evident in her postwar activities as a journalist, environmental activist, homemaker and sailor whose two-year journey from Bermuda to Turkey and back was described in her 1985 book, The Small World of Long-Distance Sailors. Photos.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Booklist: Red Sky, Black Death: A Soviet Woman Pilot's Memoir of the Eastern Front

Born in a tiny village amidst revolution and civil war, Anna Yegorova came of age during the grimmest years of Soviet power. An optimistic and resolute young patriot, she saw hope and vision in the nascent superpower's ideology. She volunteered to help build Moscow. And she took to the skies and learned to fly.

But when Germany's 1941 invasion shook Russia to its core, Yegorova joined her fellow pilots in the bloodiest war zone in human history, flying hair-riasing reconnaissance missions in a wooden biplane. She became a flight leader in the famously deadly "Shturmovik" ground-attack aircraft, guiding her comrades in furious air battles along the Southern Front.

Eventually shot down and captured near Warsaw, Yegorova survived five months in a Nazi concentration camp. After the war, she was welcomed home with suspicion and persecution by the notorious Soviet secret police.

Amid the epic catastrophe of Russia's "Great Patriotic War" and her own personal tragedies, Yegorova's story is also one of joy, camaraderie among soldiers and pilots and the quiet satisfaction of defending one's country, all against a backdrop of love for the freedom of flight. In 1965, Yegorova was awarded the illustrious "Hero of the Soviet Union," then Moscow's highest honor.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Festival of Flight Hearkens to an Earlier Time Festival of Flight Hearkens to an Earlier Time

If you are one of those people who have their head in the clouds or a gaze fixed upon the heavens, the New Garden Festival of Flight Air and Car Show is the weekend getaway for you. Now in its 40th year, the air show features aerobatic performances, demonstrations that hearken back to a time of pin-up models, victory gardens and WWII bombers.

“You will see some of the best pilots in the world doing all kinds of things planes and gliders are not supposed to do,” said Jon Martin, Airport Manager. In addition to the air show, the event will showcase “the kind of classic cars that will make you itch to drive them,” he added.

Opening ceremonies will be held at midday on Saturday, June 11, and the air/car show will continue on Sunday, from noon to 5pm, at the New Garden Airport in Toughkehamon, Chester County, which is just south and west of Longwood Gardens.

The show will start with the usual nationalistic pomp and circumstance of singing the National Anthem and raising a flag, but, of course, at the air show they have to do it a little differently. The Cecil County Parachute Team will do a flag jump to show off the colors of Old Glory.

If you thought flag jumping was fun, wait until you see Jane Wicker walking the wings of a 450 HP Stearman in her untethered debut performance at New Garden. Wicker’s style is reminiscent of the barnstormers of the 1920s and '30s, whose daring and often reckless acrobatics on the wings of planes won them fame but sometimes ended in tragedy.

Other aerial displays will include the flights of Dan Dameo piloting the P-40 Warhawk, Matt Chapman in the CAP 580, Kevin Russo in the SNJ-6, a presentation by CAF Dixie Wing’s P-51D Mustang and stunt flying by Jason Flood in a Pitts S1S.

The highlight of the show will be the flight of the P-51 Mustang, a single flyer plane characterized by a snarling, jagged-toothed bird painted on its nose. One of the great "war birds," the P-51 Mustang is credited with helping the Allies win WWII.

On Saturday only, the USAF B-2A Spirit Stealth Bomber will make an appearance at the air show, reaching speeds of up to 630 miles per hour.

The B-2 Spirit bomber, which will perform fly-bys, has been in the service of the United States Air Force since 1997 and has seen action in numerous military campaigns, including Operation Iraqi Freedom.

With so many aerobatic feats of flying mastery performed during this two-day event it will be hard to divert one’s attention from the sky, but there will be plenty to do on the ground as well.

“It’s not just airplanes,” Martin said of the New Garden show. “It’s as much a craft and vendor fair as an air show. Plus we have our classic car show, which grows bigger every year.”

In addition to displays and demonstrations, there will be a raffle for rides on the PT-19 as well as other aircraft. The Manhattan Dolls, a 1940s-styled singing trio, will take you on a sentimental journey back in time to the music of the World War II era and Armed Forces Radio on both Saturday and Sunday. To keep the kids busy, there will be toy vendors, a moon bounce, entertaining games and a mini RC race track.

With plenty of food vendors, no one will go hungry at the airshow.

“We have everything from Bruster’s ice cream and funnel cakes to seafood and the best barbecue you’ll ever have,” Martin said.

While getting your chow on, you might want to catch Bill Reidy and Joe Ziegler’s transformation into Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The accomplished impressionists will perform Abbott and Costello's famous vaudeville routine, "Who's on First?" at the New Garden show.

Adult single day admission to the show is $16, admission for children six to 12 years old is $7, and children 5 and under will be admitted free. Weekend passes are available at a cost of $27 for adults and $11 for children.

"It’s very much a family event," Martin said.

If you plan on staying nearby for the weekend, there is a charming and comfortable bed and breakfast along Route 1 that might fit your needs.

The Pennsbury Inn in Chadds Ford is decorated in the style of an 18th century American home, and offers guests seven bedrooms--each with private bath--from which to choose.

Rooms are $155 to $255 per night, depending on the amenities of the room. Some rooms are true suites, and include a living room, a fireplace, a library or a music room. The procrastinator's special at the Pennsbury Inn is a 10 percent discount off any open room booked within 24 hours on a weekend, and a 20 percent discount off a room booked within 24 hours during the week.

According to innkeepers Cheryl and Chip Grono, as well as their official canine greeter, Teddy, “comfort is (the inn's) specialty.”

During their stay, guests can relax and enjoy incredible gardens featuring koi ponds, reflecting pools and hammocks. All guest rooms feature a full or shower bath, cable TV, desks, Wi-Fi Internet access and comfortable reading chairs.

Breakfast, of course, is included with the room. Cheryl Grono has been praised for the attention to detail evident in her home cooking, which has been known to make guests feel extra special. The inn's Full Country Breakfast includes seasonal fresh fruit, waffles, egg dishes and fruity pancakes.

Situated on eight acres of land, there are plenty of woodland trails around the inn on which to get in a run before the air show. For those less inclined to commit to strenuous exercise during a weekend getaway, the reflecting pool offers a great place in which to sit and think about how crazy Jane Wicker is for doing acrobatics on a moving plane.

Located near the inn are several wineries, including Chadds Ford, Twin Brook, Kreutz Creak, Stargazers, Penns Wood, Paradox and Walnut Winery. A pass to visit them costs $20 per person and includes a glass.

The Pennsbury Inn is just a 15 minute drive from the New Garden Festival of Flight Air and Car Show. So, while your head may be in the clouds for part of the day, you will have the opportunity to become grounded at the relaxing bed and breakfast the rest of the time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Major Jennifer Grieves - 1st Marine One helicopter pilot

This video is actually a year or so old, and I think I blogged about it at the time, but watch it anyway!

On July 16, 2009, Marine One flew with an all-female crew for the first time, as the final flight of the first female to fly the president: Major Jennifer Grieves.

1st female Marine One pilot marks last day

By Darlene Superville - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jul 16, 2009 14:52:38 EDT

WASHINGTON — More history was made at the White House on Thursday when President Barack Obama climbed aboard his waiting helicopter: An all-female Marine Corps crew was taking him to Andrews Air Force Base.

It was Maj. Jennifer Grieves’ last day in a rotation that made her the first female pilot of Marine One, the presidential helicopter.

To honor her achievement, Thursday’s three-person crew was made up of women — another first.

Obama walked across the South Lawn from the Oval Office, climbed aboard the helicopter and shook hands and chatted with Grieves for a few seconds before the doors were closed and the helicopter lifted off for the short hop to Andrews, just outside Washington.

Details on what he said to Grieves were not immediately available.

Grieves, of Glendale, Ariz., was designated a Marine One pilot in May 2008 and flew President George W. Bush and Obama numerous times, according to information provided by the White House.

Grieves’ co-pilot, Maj. Jennifer Marino, is from Palisade, Colo. Sgt. Rachael Sherman of Traverse City, Mich., was the crew chief.

Grieves joined the Marine One squadron in October 2005, becoming the second female pilot to receive orders to the squadron.

She heads next to the Command and Staff College at Quantico, Va., to fulfill the necessary requirements for becoming a lieutenant colonel, according to the Marine Corps’ public affairs office.

Obama flew to New Jersey to campaign with Gov. Jon Corzine, who is up for re-election in November. The president also was visiting New York City to address the 100th anniversary convention of the NAACP and attend a Democratic Party fundraiser.