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September 6, 2011
By Jill W. Tallman
The National Aviation Hall of Fame has chosen film maker Heather Taylor as this year’s recipient of the Combs Gates Award in recognition of her documentary on the women who flew in the 1929 Women’s Transcontinental Air Race.
Taylor produced and directed Breaking Through the Clouds, which tells the story of the 20 pilots who flew from Santa Monica, Calif., to Cleveland, Ohio. The racers included notable names such as Pancho Barnes, Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, and Bobbi Trout.
Taylor spent 13 years writing, researching, and filming the documentary. She used a mixture of newsreel footage and recreated scenes featuring the same aircraft types as those used by the original race participants. You can view a trailer or order a DVD on the website.
Taylor will speak about women of the air race derby acting as role models for today’s aviators on Sept. 23 at AOPA Aviation Summit in Hartford, Conn. For more information about AOPA Summit, see the website.
The $20,000 Combs Gates award was established to encourage and support relevant aviation history and research efforts. Taylor will accept the award on Oct. 11 at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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