Trailblazing aviator Elinor Smith died in Palo Alto, California, at the age of 98. She was born Elinor Regina Patricia Ward in 1911 in New York City. (She became Elinor Smith after her father, whose wide-ranging show business pursuits included singing and comedy, changed his name to Tom Smith.) Elinor Smith grew up in the […]
Photo Courtesy: NASA
Sally Ride was born on May 26th, 1951 in Encino, CA. Older of two daughters, her interest in science grew at an early age. She went on to get a bachelor of science in Physics, a bachelor of arts in English, a master of science and a PhD in physics from Stanford University.
When NASA was looking for woman astronaut candidates in 1977, Sally Ride was one of the six women selected. She became the first American woman in space when she flew aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18th, 1983.
She made two shuttle flights, and later became a champion for science education and a role model for generations. She wrote five science related children’s books and co-founded, Sally Ride Science, to encourage children, especially girls, to study science.
She died of cancer in 2012.
March is Women History Month & Women of Aviation Month.
Amelia Earhart was all very well, but did she cycle the Tour de France? Amy Johnson was pretty good but did she swim the length of the Seine? Jackie Cochran achieved a lot but was she the champion precision shooter of all France? No. And how many people fly in a supersonic Voodoo jet on their 80th birthday? The remarkable…
Love in the Clouds
Photo Courtesy: Smithsonian
Suzanne Asbury-Oliver is the only professional female skywriter in the world. She started flying gliders when she was only 14, soloing at 15 and by the time she was 18, she was a Certified Flight Instructor.
She has been skywriting the skies of United States and Canada for Pepsi Cola Company since 1980. In fact, she met her husband Steve Oliver at the Kentucky Derby while she was skywriting for Pepsi and he was banner towing advertisements in his 1941 Stearman. She and her husband own their own plane and skywriting business called Olivers Flying Circus.
March is Women History Month and Women of Aviation Month.
Note: Came across this recently, source unknown.
There was a news item earlier this week that Indian Women Pilots have surpassed the global average. I had written a brief article last year about how, even though there is no General Aviation activity, the proportion of women pilots in India was higher than other countries.
This past week, Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian Women to fly a fighter jet solo, a MIG -21 Bison for 30 minutes. What is remarkable is, she is 24 years old and is one of the three women inducted into the Indian Air Force. The other two women are Bavana Kanth and Mohana Singh.
June gloom was upon us. Only in California, could one expect such gloomy weather in late spring. The dark overcast skies, and faint drizzle presented a somberness that reflected our moods as we made our way to say goodbye to Nathan. It seems even the weather gods were unhappy.
There was a beautiful service for Nathan at the Dessert Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery. Almost everyone connected with Dessert Air and Dessert Maintenance was there. Even Dessert Air students had come to bid their farewell. Despite his quirky behavior, everyone loved Nathan. We all watched as the body was lowered and Father Francis gave Nathan a beautiful memorial service. In conclusion, Father Francis quoted the scriptures as he finished his prayers:
“Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
Strange choice of quote from Romans 6:16 I thought. Did I see HIM flinch? Are my eyes playing tricks, I wondered. With Amelia beside me, and my wounds healing, I was grateful to be safe. The question remained, Why me? Why did someone tie me up for the dead? What did they want with me? Why Amelia? Moreover, why Nathan? What had he seen or heard? What had we seen or heard? Why kill him? Why did they want us out of the way? I was not even sure it was they. I had all these questions, but no answers. For now, we were safe maybe, but for how long?
Soon after I had found Nathan dead in the hanger, the force had descended. While I waited for them to arrive, I had called Chung. “Are you still there”, I asked concerned. He had gone awfully silent. “Are you sure,” he asked. “It can’t be right, I made sure…” his voice tapered off. “What do you mean, you made sure?” I prompted. “Stay right there, I will be over as soon I can.” Chung hung up even before I could respond.
“You should have called me first, before calling the force,” he eyed me accusingly, as he walked over and shook Nathan. “Come on Nathan, this is not a joke. I have work to do. Wake up.” He shook him again without success, as we heard the airport Fire & Rescue and the county rescue arrive. “He’s dead!” I said. “There is nothing I could do.” “Did he say anything?” Chung asked , looking at me, piercingly. “No,” I nodded. “He was long gone when I arrived.” I said. Something prevented me from saying what I heard Nathan say, as he shuddered to his death. Chung continued to stare forcefully at me, as though he could read my very thoughts. I was saved from any further conversation, as the rescue personnel descended upon us and started to check on Nathan and ask questions.
I waited beside Chung, as Nathan’s body was carried away by the coroner. The hanger was sprawling with police as they poked around gathering and bagging evidence. For a change, Chung remained mum. This was the first time I was seeing him without his usual grin or quick retorts. He appeared devastated.
“Louis saved my life you know,” spoke Chung with a faraway gaze. “Our platoon was on the way to a small town where we heard several civilians were under attack. It was raining hard; we took cover under a mangrove forest, waiting for the monsoon showers to pass. Out of nowhere, a platoon of Vietnamese soldiers appeared and started shooting. It was Louis, who took a bullet and saved our lives that day.” No amount of pressing would get him to disclose any more details.
What was his and Nathan’s connection to HIM, I wondered, as we wearily made our way to our cars after the funeral.
Geraldyn “Jerrie” M. Cobb, a well-established female trailblazer of the skies, was born in Norman, Oklahoma. Her father was a pilot and, with his encouragement, she developed a strong interest in aviation at an early age. By the time she was 12, Cobb was learning how to fly in her father’s 1936 Waco Aircraft Company […]
First Women to Fly
Blanche Scott was the first women to drive across the United States and the first women to fly.
Born in 1889, Blanche Scott’s life spanned from the era of airplane invention, to seeing the first man walk on the moon. In an age when women couldn’t vote and their place was considered to be at home, she became the first woman to drive across the US. There were only 218 miles of roads outside the cities.
Photo courtesy Wikepedia: Blanche Stuart Scott seated at the controls of a Curtiss Model D, circa early 1910s.
Some aviation firsts:
- She became the first women to take a shot solo hop in the air, when an aircraft she was taxing lifted off the ground.
- She was the first and only women to receive flight instruction from Glenn Curtiss.
- She made her first public flight in October 1910.
- She set the women’s long distance record for flight of 10 miles and later 25 miles in 1911
- She became the first women test pilot in America, the first woman stunt pilot or The Tomboy of the Air
- She played the lead role in The Aviator’s Bride, the first movie about flying
- She was also the first women passenger to ride in a passenger jet
March is Women History Month, and Women of Aviation Month.
Almost time for a first look….
I took a quick peek at the Tidal Basin this past week. The abnormally high temperatures are harboring an early cherry blossom season. Here’s a first look at how things look at the Tidal Basin. The National Park Service is forecasting early peak bloom this year: between March 14th and March 17!