December 10, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Looking for a Christmas gift for a woman who loves flying? This Day in Women’s Aviation, a page-a-day calendar published by Powder Puff Pilot, marks the accomplishments made by women in aviation.
Entries span three centuries—from balloonists of the early 1800s to the astronauts and military heroines of today. A wide range of aviation endeavors are recognized—glider pilots, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II, airplane designers, flight attendants, parachutists, educators, and the “Mercury 13,” the secret female-astronaut testing program of the 1960s.
The oldest woman referenced is 99-year-old Hildegarde Ferrara, who, in 1996, tandem-jumped with an instructor to become the oldest person to parachute from an airplane. The youngest is 7-year-old Jessica Dubroff, who died in a crash that same year attempting to become the youngest person to fly across the United States.
The cover of This Day in Women’s Aviation features a photo of Betty Scott, the American adventurer often credited as the first woman in the United States to fly solo. Famed airplane designer Glenn Curtiss, founder of the first U.S. airplane manufacturing company in 1907, reluctantly took on Betty as his protégé. As was his usual practice, he inserted a block of wood behind the throttle pedal of his 35-horsepower Curtiss pusher to prevent students from inadvertently taking off while taxiing down the field. By some reports, Betty conspired with a mechanic to remove the throttle block and on Sept. 6, 1910, took flight in Hammondsport, N.Y., up to 40 feet high. Those who insist that Betty’s flight was unintentional instead credit Bessica Raiche as America’s first flyer. She was a dentist who, within weeks of Betty’s flight, flew solo with full intention.
The 2010 calendar, which offers all new entries from the inaugural 2009 version, is available for $14.95 online.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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