Women in Transportation History: Louise Thaden, Pilot — Transportation History

March 17, 1929 At the California-based Oakland Municipal Airport (now Oakland International Airport), 23-year-old Ira Louise McPhetridge Thaden completed a plane flight in which she set a new women’s endurance record for staying airborne. She brought her Travel Air biplane back down onto the airfield 22 hours, three minutes, and 12 seconds after flying from there […]

Women in Transportation History: Louise Thaden, Pilot — Transportation History

Repost: To Castle & Back

Some fun flying 16 years ago…

Fly 'n Things

“Cessna 69N, 20 miles south of Atwater, say intentions?” asked  NORCAL Aproach.
“Request ILS 31 approach into Atwater”  responded I.
“Decend and maintain 5000, fly heading  310”
“Roger” said I and eased back the throttle to  2000rpm to start a slow descent from the 8000ft we were flying on our way to Atwater and turned to a heading of 310. Nothing happened! The VSI still stayed at zero. The tachometer read 2000rpm. What was going on? It din’t look like we were descending even an inch.  I pulled back some more to 1500 rpm. Still nothing happened. I scaned the other instruments to take stock of the situation. It was only a month ago that I had flown. I couldn’t possibly have forgotten how to fly. What was I missing. As I glanced over the airspeed indicator, it read 80 knots. My heart skipped a beat. We were slowing down…

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Bessie Coleman

Barnstorming through the Barriers

Born in Atlanta, TX in 1892, Bessie Coleman was the first African American, and the first Native American woman pilot. She had twelve brothers and sisters. During World War I, when she learned that France was allowing women to learn flying, she became interested in becoming a pilot. Although she applied to many schools across the country, being a woman and African American she was at a disadvantage. She started learning French and applied to flight schools in France. She was accepted at the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation in Le Crotoy, France and received her international pilot’s license on June 15, 1921 from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Her dream was to own a plane and open her own flight school.

She performed her first public flight in 1922 and was famous for doing “loop-the-loops” and making the shape of an “8” in an airplane. She toured the country giving flight lessons, performing in flight shows, and encouraging African Americans and women to learn to fly. She suffered her first accident in 1923 when her engine stopped and was badly injured. She survived the accident and returned to flying performing dangerous tricks in 1925.

On April 30, 1926, while taking a test flight with a mechanic named William Wills who was at the helm, a loose wrench got stuck in the engine of the aircraft at about 3,000 feet. The aircraft was no longer controllable and flipped over. Unfortunately, Coleman was not wearing a seatbelt. Airplanes at that time did not have a roof or any protection and Coleman immediately fell out of the open plane and died.

March is Woman History Month and Women of Aviation Month.

See Also:

Bessie Coleman: Barnstorming through the Barriers
Bessie Coleman