Words on Wednesday: Ann Baumgartner


Image of : Carl, Ann Baumgartner; Army Air Forces, Organizations, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). [photograph]

Photo Source: Smithsonian Air and Space

Anne Baumgartner was born on August 27th 1918 in Augusta, GA. Her interest in aviation began when she learnt about Amelia Earheart in school.  She learned to fly at Somerset Hills Airport in Basking Ridge, New Jersey and entered the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) training at Houston, TX in 1943. She was assigned to tow a target squadron at Camp Davis, North Carolina, flying Curtiss A-25s, and later transferred to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where she became the first and only female test pilot.

Some of the aircraft she flew included: T-7, AT-17, AT-10, C-45, C-47, A-24, A-25, B-25, B-26, B-17, B-29, P-38, P-40, P-47, P-51, YP-59A as well as foreign-made Avro Lancaster, deHavilland Mosquito, Spitfire, Junkers Ju-88 and the Canadian C-64. She became the first women to fly a jet when she test flew the YP-59A in 1944.

When the WASP was disbanded in 1944, she returned to flight instruction and writing for New York Times. She died in 2008 at the age of 90.

See Also:

Women in Aviation: Anne Baumgartner Carl
World War II Database: Anne Baumgartner

When Female Fliers Proved They Were More Than Powder Puffs


IN THE 1920s, when civilian aviation was organizing itself and aviators were setting benchmark upon benchmark, air races were a popular spectator sport. The All Women’s Air Derby, as it was known officially, drew crowds to see and meet record setters, nonconformists, and all bands between. At the extremes flew unassuming Amelia Earhart, a demure daredevil from Atchison, Kansas, and bohemian Florence “Pancho” Barnes, a Union Army balloonist’s granddaughter who declared, “Flying makes me feel like a sex maniac in a whorehouse with a stack of $20 bills.” Endurance flier Evelyn “Bobbi” Trout was known for flying by night—and living to tell the tale. Ruth Elder financed flying lessons with her beauty contest winnings. Feminist Opal Kunz’s husband, George, was chief mineralogist at Tiffany’s and well able to keep her in planes. Blanche Noyes flew for the air mail service. Stylish Alabamian Ruth Elder had failed in 1927 to become the first woman to fly from Long Island to Paris, France (she was forced to ditch in the Atlantic), but the attempt had earned her dinner at the White House and a Manhattan ticker tape parade. These and fellow competitors—pint-size Vera Dawn Walker, banker’s daughter Neva Paris, test pilot’s wife Claire Mae Fahy, and more—took off from Clover Field—now Santa Monica, California, Municipal Airport—on August 19, 1929, aiming to log the fewest air hours reaching Cleveland, Ohio. That nine-day journey killed one racer, made the survivors famous, and signaled American women’s full-fledged entry into aviation.

Continue to read here:

When Female Fliers Proved They Were More Than Powder Puffs

Women in Transportation History – Marie Marvingt, Pilot, Cyclist, Canoeist — Transportation History


In 1910, transportation pioneer Marie Marvingt was formally recognized by the French Academy of Sports for her wide range of accomplishments in sporting activities. The gold medal that was presented to Marvingt on this occasion would be the only one ever given by the academy for more than one sport. “Swimming, cycling, mountain climbing, ballooning, flying, […]

via Women in Transportation History – Marie Marvingt, Pilot, Cyclist, Canoeist — Transportation History

My mum, the pilot — Hey Loons


Once upon a time, a little girl was told that women shouldn’t fly airplanes … I grew up knowing ‘mum flew planes’. This was one of a series of simple facts in my childhood: my sister and I were born in London; our parents came from India; dad sang; mum flew. She told us stories […]

via My mum, the pilot — Hey Loons

Words on Wednesdays: Ruth Law Oliver


Fearless FlyerRuth Law

Photo source: Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Pioneering aviator, Ruth Law Oliver,  was born on May 21, 1887.  She was inspired to take up flying by her brother who was parachutist and pioneer movie stuntman Rodman Law. In 1912, Law asked Orville Wright for lessons but he refused, because he thought women weren’t mechanically inclined. She enrolled in the Burgess Flying School and made her first flight on July 5, 1912 and soloed on August 12 of the same year.

She bought her first aircraft from Orville Wright in 1912 in which she became the first woman to fly at night. She set three records in 1916 on a flight from Chicago to New York. She had broken the American cross-country and nonstop record and the world’s record for continuous flight for women pilots. Her total flight time for the 884 miles from Chicago to New York was 8 hours 55 minutes and 35 seconds.

She had the honor of carrying the first official air mail to the Philippine Islands in 1919. After the war, she formed Ruth Law’s Flying Circus, a three-plane troupe that amazed spectators at state and county fairs by racing against cars, flying through fireworks, and setting altitude and distance records. She stopped flying in 1922 to appease her husband. She died on December 1, 1970,  in San Francisco.

March is Women History Month and Women of Aviation Month.

See Also:

Ruth Law—Queen of the Air: Challenging Stereotypes and Inspiring a Nation
Women in Aviation and Space History
This Ace Aviatrix Learned to Fly Even Though Orville Wright Refused to Teach Her

Manned vs. Unmanned


I recently came across some interesting, but contentious discussions. The discussions started innocently enough with a question on what advances in space the scientific community wanted to see for manned flight. Among the plethora of ideas, was a simple, yet honest request to stop using the term manned flight. This resulted in the opening of Pandora’s box with arguments for and against such a change in terminology. As I read the arguments, at times rude, and dismissive of the need for this, I seriously started considering the terminology.

My personal concerns where triggered when one of the respondents to the discussion indicated how a professional woman in the scientific world in the 1970’s in a predominantly male dominated society was referred to as “unmanned”. That response affected me more than I expected. It felt offensive and degrading. I was heartened to learn that NASA had updated their terminology back in the 1970’s to use flight crew when the first women were selected to the space program and became part of the astronaut team.

What is the correct way to convey this, I pondered? Should I be more attuned to the right terminology than I already am? You see I never saw gender differences when the term manned was used. The dictionary definition of manned includes the gender neutral “person or persons”.

As commercial aviation gained momentum during the early golden age of aviation, air hostesses, or air stewardess as they were referred to then, played a vital role in welcoming passengers aboard the aircraft and ensuring passengers had a fulfilling experience. This role has since evolved to include other roles and responsibilities, and over the years, more and more men have started filling these roles. Today we automatically refer to them as flight attendant or cabin crew. No one either questions or contradicts this transition in terminology use. Just for fun, I used the Google ngram viewer that charts word frequencies over a large corpus of books to examine cultural change over the years. While the current viewer accesses literary content only till 2008, the observed trends from the charts while not definitive appear to be trending in the obvious direction.

The whole meaning of gender has been evolving over the last few decades. Why should a person’s right to bear arms be more important than a person’s right to define who they are as a person or gender of their choice? As we strive to get our youth more interested in aerospace and STEM programs, especially young women, why should we not rethink how we define our crew to be more inclusive and in harmony with the changing demographics?

Note: A version of this appears in Aviatrix Aerogram.

Flying Low and Slow


A memorable photo journey

Over St John’s River and Lake Poinsetta area at low altitude to view river, marshes, and wildlife in a 1940 Waco UPF-7 Biplane.

We then turned northeast and flew over the Indian and Banana Rivers towards Kennedy Space Center & Cape Canaveral.Approached Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to the northwest, and came in low flying down the middle of the Space Shuttle runway.

Flew over the nearby KSC/NASA Vehicle Assembly Building, new Blue Origin and Space X building, to the east of the Launch Complexes 39A and 39B.

 

A slow, low circle over the KSC Visitor Center, with Rocket Garden, Atlantis Center.

Then south towards Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, flying over the cruise ship terminals, cruise ships, and port, and then down along and over Coca Beach.

A little stick time for me as we turned west and headed back to Merritt Island for a landing.

What a fantastic flight. If you are ever in the Orlando area check out Florida Air Tours and take a ride with Mike.

National Native American Heritage Month: Madine Pulaski, Pilot — Transportation History


Madine Pulaski had a passion for airborne travel that took her from serving as a flight attendant to becoming a versatile pilot. A member of the Cherokee Nation, she was born as Etha Madine Waltrip in 1936 in the community of Eldon, Oklahoma. When Pulaski was in the eighth grade, she and her family moved to […]

via National Native American Heritage Month: Madine Pulaski, Pilot — Transportation History

1897: The Birth of an Australian Aviation Legend — Transportation History


November 20, 1897 Aviation pioneer Maude Rose “Lores” Bonney was born in the city of Pretoria in the present-day Republic of South Africa. (At the time of Bonney’s birth, the region where Pretoria is located was part of an independent and internationally recognized state known as the Transvaal Republic.) At an early age, Bonney – […]

via 1897: The Birth of an Australian Aviation Legend — Transportation History