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…
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.
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.
I was annoyed from the start by the attitude of doubt by the spectators that I would never really make the flight. This attitude made me more determined than ever to succeed.
— Harriet Quimby, just prior to her flight across the English Channel, 1912.
Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress
Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress
E. Lillian Todd is the first woman to design and build an airplane in 1906, though it never flew.
The path from dreams to success does exist.
May you have the vision to find it,
the courage to get onto it and,
the perseverance to follow it.
Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian astronaut, traveled aboard Soyuz-11 and traveled 7 days, 21 hours and 40 hours aboard Salyut 7.
That was 1984.
It was not until 1996, that the first Indian woman made it to space.
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia
Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian American woman in space. Born in Karnal, India, she obtained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh in 1982. She obtained her MS in Aerospace Engineering from University of Texas at Austin, a second MS and PhD in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado, Boulder. She also held a CFI for airplane and glider, and commercial license for single and multi-engine planes, seaplanes and gliders.
She was selected for her first flight at NASA astronaut corp in 1996 and flew her first mission aboard Columbia as part of STS-87. On January 16th, 2003 she returned aboard Columbia ironically, for her second and last mission on STS 107. She logged 30 days, 14 hours and 54 minutes in space.
Columbia, disintegrated in space during re-entry, over Texas, on February 1, 2003.
Sunitha Williams, is the other NASA astronaut of Indian origin.
I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know — that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it. These I learned at once. But most things come harder.
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
How is it possible to bring order out of memory? I should like to begin at the beginning, patiently, like a weaver at his loom. I should like to say, “This is the place to start; there can be no other.”
But there are a hundred places to start for there are a hundred names…
So the name shall be Nungwe:
Type of aircraft: Avro Avian
Journey — Nairobi to Nungwe
Time — 3 hrs 40 min
Pilot — Self
So begins, West with the Night by Beryl Markham.
It was one of the first books written by an Aviatrix, that I read after I obtained my private pilot license. Not the least because, there is some overlap with people and places, with the book that became a popular movie, “Out of Africa” written by Isak Dinesen.
Flying in early 20th century was precious. Being a women, and flying in early 20th century was incredible!
The book, West with the Night, covers the authors experiences of living and flying in Kenya, Nairobi, Tanzania and more. If the mention of Kifaroo or Muthaiga club makes you nostalgic, this might be a book for you. If you are a fan of Out of Africa and the BBC TV series In the Heat of the Sun, this might be the book for you.
On September 4th, 1936 Beryl Markham took off from Abingdon, England and after a 20 hour flight, crash landed in Nova Scotia, Canada. She was the first women to cross the Atlantic solo. She was the first women to fly from England to North America, non-stop, from east to west.
You can read all about the adventure in the book.
The book can be purchased as hardcover, paperback, audio or Kindle edition. Here is the description from Amazon: