The Vicky I Love


 

My parents said that Vicky was a bush pilot in Juneau. There were very few women pilots in the 30′ in the US let alone Alaska. I will write the Juneau Historical Society and see if they have any records about her. Other research said she was a waitress. Who knows. Another mystery about Vicky. She was a risk-taker and courageous.  I don’t think that she was afraid of danger or the unknown. These were the character traits of other women pilots.

Vicky took flying lessons at the Roosevelt field and stayed at the Roosevelt Field Hotel. It was a place for dancing in the huge ballroom. It’s funny but I can picture so much about Vicky but I wish that I had asked my parents about her. My mom really didn’t like her.

  At the hotel, they could eat outside on warm sunny days. The eating area overlooked the field and they could watch the planes land and takeoff. Roosevelt Field was the most famous airfield and everything was made for the pilot’s safety. The field had asphalt runways so it was the perfect place to learn to fly.

When women started flying in great numbers people wondered if flying was safe for women. Are they physically fit? Instructors believed that women couldn’t learn because of their lack of mechanical knowledge. Women learned to fly for sport. They believed, it was a wholesome sport and adventure. But others took the idea of flying as serious business.  After getting their license they were restricted in finding jobs. Most women ended up selling planes or writing about planes. Maybe Vicky was worked at one of those jobs. 
  I do know that Vicky used spent and spent until she was flat broke. I know this because of all the places she lived. One of those places was my parents home. She only came there when she was out of money.

  When her husband walked out on her Vicky reported Ward missing two years later in 1927. She looked for Ward on her own for two years because she didn’t want the publicity. When the police were alerted they tried to talk to Wards mother Mrs. Anna D. Lederer, his sister Catherine Durant…neither would give any information to the police. Vicky stayed temporarily at the Hotel Manager. Vicky didn’t want to live on the family’s charity but she sure changed her mind.
  It was such a mystery where Ward was living but she was tired of looking for him. Vicky said “Now I am neither unmarried or married. (New York Times, April 4, 1927) Ward wasn’t honest with his own wife. I learned that he had married again but did not give Vicky the courtesy of divorcing of getting a divorce.

She was drinking, led the high life but she loved Ward more. Vicky made herself so sick that she couldn’t work and she didn’t know how she would survive. She decided that she had to accept the money from Ward’s family and the Durant’s. It was then that she went traveling and then learned to fly. When the world was in crisis Vicky lived well.

 

The 99s Past and Present

Image result for the 99s

The 99s were formed by Amelia Earhart in 1929. Letters were sent to 117 licensed women pilots in that same year. Of that group 99 replied and wanted to join. They joined to bring women pilots a place to find friendship with other women and to help advance the cause of women in aviation.


The 99s were formed by Amelia Earhart in 1929. Letters were sent to 117 licensed women pilots in that same year. Of that group 99 replied and wanted to join. They joined to bring women pilots a place to find friendship with other women and to help advance the cause of women in aviation.

  They met after the first All Women’s Air Derby. In that race the women pilots faced continual discrimination from male pilots. Amelia thought it was time to organize a group to help these women.

   Twenty-Six women gathered for this first meeting at Curtiss Field, in Valley Stream, New York. The women ate cookies and drank tea but those attending were there to decide their aviation future. They felt that women needed guidance to enter air races, assisting them getting more experience in aviation. These were lofty goals in 1929 because their families objected strongly. They believed that flying was too dangerous and not ladylike.

  Today members of the 99s are active in many aviation related jobs. They all have one thing in common: the love of flying. Some women fly for pleasure and some fly for their jobs. Many chapters have flyouts where they fly to different parts of the country. The 99s still have races and aviation shows with attendance in the thousands. The largest air show is held in Oshcosh, Wisconsin. It is sponsored by the Experimental Aviation Association. The 99s have a large presence at that show.

  The 99s also have speakers that help women learn new skills. These workshops are important to help the pilots reach new goals or refresh them with the latest updates.

  The 99s have a girl scout day each year. The girls meet others that are interested in learning about aviation.

  The 99s bring women together to learn and develop new friendships and renew old ones. I went to one and saw how excited these girls were.  

   A ninety-nine is identified by a little gold pin that was designed with two golden nines and has a prop that that spins. These women wear it with pride. I also wear mine because I am proud to be a member of The Friends Of The 99s.

  Today the 99s are active in painting a compass rose at various airports. This helps pilots in navigation.  1919 I won a trip to the 99s museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was a fantastic experience to meet some pilots and gain more information for my blog and book. I have been a member of the Friends of the 99s for many years. I am not a pilot so I couldn’t be a member of the 99s. Therefore, I am a Friend of the 99s.

  My Aunt Vicky, who was a pilot in the thirties was sent the initial letter to join the 99s. I wonder why she never joined the group. Maybe it was because she was one of the first Jewish women pilots. She earned her license in 1931 and of course there was tremendous discrimination toward Jews. Maybe she didn’t feel that she fit in because she was forty years old when she learned to fly. The majority of members were in their twenties, one was even seventeen. I will never know but I think that the 99s helped all members and non-members.

  In 1984 the 99s bought and owns the Amelia Earhart Museum in Atchison, Kansas. It is visited by many that want to learn more about the iconic Amelia Earhart. The 99s Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma is a treasure of information about women aviators. It has an Aviation Research Laboratory for those that are interested in the history of women in aviation. In 2019 I won a trip to the museum and found the exhibits interesting and informative. Before I came a staff, member reached out to me what I wanted to research. When I arrived at the museum, they had picked out valuable information to add to my blog.

  The 99s main function is to support other women pilots. They do this by continuing to have air races. This tradition started in 1929 with the first All Women Air Race. They have conventions in different parts of the United States and the world. They meet new women and develop friendships with other women.

  The 99s sponsor Scholarships to women so they can finish their training without worrying about money. There are five different scholarships: They all honor Amelia Earhart.

  1. Flight training
  2. Academic
  3. Technical Training
  4. Emergency Maneuver Training
  5. Memorial honoring Kitty Houghton to assist women in emerging countries who want to be pilots.

 The 99s also sponsor Research Scholarship Grants.  

 The women network other 99s through the internet. www.ninety.nines.org The internet has brought members of the 99s together no matter where they live.

  The 99s also have programs for all age children. They off preschool, elementary, junior high and high school kids. These programs might someday help them decide on aviation as a career.

  The 99s are willing to help others and have been very kind to me even though I’m not a pilot.

  The 99s also have speakers that help women learn new skills. These workshops are important to help the pilots reach new goals or refresh them with the latest updates.

  The 99s have a girl scout day each year. The girls meet others that are interested in learning about aviation.

  The 99s bring women together to learn and develop new friendships and renew old ones. I went to one and saw how excited these girls were.  

   A ninety-nine is identified by a little gold pin that was designed with two golden nines and has a prop that that spins. These women wear it with pride. I also wear mine because I am proud to be a member of The Friends Of The 99s.

  Today the 99s are active in painting a compass rose at various airports. This helps pilots in navigation.  1919 I won a trip to the 99s museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was a fantastic experience to meet some pilots and gain more information for my blog and book. I have been a member of the Friends of the 99s for many years. I am not a pilot so I couldn’t be a member of the 99s. Therefore, I am a Friend of the 99s.

  My Aunt Vicky, who was a pilot in the thirties was sent the initial letter to join the 99s. I wonder why she never joined the group. Maybe it was because she was one of the first Jewish women pilots. She earned her license in 1931 and of course there was tremendous discrimination toward Jews. Maybe she didn’t feel that she fit in because she was forty years old when she learned to fly. The majority of members were in their twenties, one was even seventeen. I will never know but I think that the 99s helped all members and non-members.

  In 1984 the 99s bought and owns the Amelia Earhart Museum in Atchison, Kansas. It is visited by many that want to learn more about the iconic Amelia Earhart. The 99s Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma is a treasure of information about women aviators. It has an Aviation Research Laboratory for those that are interested in the history of women in aviation. In 2019 I won a trip to the museum and found the exhibits interesting and informative. Before I came a staff, member reached out to me what I wanted to research. When I arrived at the museum, they had picked out valuable information to add to my blog.

  The 99s main function is to support other women pilots. They do this by continuing to have air races. This tradition started in 1929 with the first All Women Air Race. They have conventions in different parts of the United States and the world. They meet new women and develop friendships with other women.

  The 99s sponsor Scholarships to women so they can finish their training without worrying about money. There are five different scholarships: They all honor Amelia Earhart.

  1. Flight training
  2. Academic
  3. Technical Training
  4. Emergency Maneuver Training
  5. Memorial honoring Kitty Houghton to assist women in emerging countries who want to be pilots.

 The 99s also sponsor Research Scholarship Grants.  

 The women network other 99s through the internet. www.ninety.nines.org The internet has brought members of the 99s together no matter where they live.

  The 99s also have programs for all age children. They off preschool, elementary, junior high and high school kids. These programs might someday help them decide on aviation as a career.

  The 99s are willing to help others and have been very kind to me even though I’m not a pilot.

Airparks the Place To Live and Fly

Airparks are built for pilots. It’s an absolute perfect place to live if you want your plane near and not need to drive to the airport. It’s a residential community built around the needs of a pilot to have his plane nearby. They park in the hangar which is attached to the home. It’s called a fly-in community privately owned. Its certainty is definitely for the wealthy. Sometimes there are a golf course or place for horses. This a very private community and only residents can drive in the area unless your invited by the owner.
There are no businesses in the community. This is a very high-end property and the prospective resident has to be voted on to live in the community.
The first air park opened in 1946 Fresno, California. It was advertised as a place to live with your plane. It is very enticing to the wealthy pilot. There are many air parks in the United States. The highest number of air parks are in Florida.
Many celebrities live like John Travolta and Harrison Ford live in an air park. John’s home is for sale and it only costs 10.5 million dollars.
I live in Illinois and there are many air parks in the northern part of the state. The highest number of air parks is probably in the states like Florida, California and Arizona.
I am an aviation enthusiast and I wish I could go to one of these air parks and see a runway that is near the front door of my home. It’s a dream that few people will ever see.
If you are one of the few that can afford to live in an Air Park in your state. What an unusual way of living that is just a dream for most.
These homes are of course private but there are many sites on the internet that you can see pictures of these fantastic homes. Many have golf courses, swimming pools and horse barns. The most enticing feature about living in these areas is walking from your home and getting in your plane. This eliminates the drive to an airport and the freedom that this way to living includes.
Pilots that chose an air park are amazed at the convivence of living like this. This is a very private place to live. Pilots get to know other pilots and enjoy socializing with those that enjoy the same interests. They revolve around their passion of aviation and the ease of flying whenever they wish.
There are 426 air Park communities in the United States. Each one is different but they are all united in their passion of flying.

Aviation in the 20s and 30s was Luxurious

Henry Ford's Airport | Mac's Motor City Garage

                                                               Terminal in the 20s  (Mac’s Motor City) 

                                                                          (macsmotorcitygarage.com)

Through the decades flying changed radically from in its infancy to present times. In the 20’s passengers were very wealthy and were treated like royalty. They had fine food and wine but It was extremely noisy and turbulent. They tolerated it because of the wonderful care they received. Most passengers had never been on a plane before so they might have been scared. The papers always had news of crashes but not of the reports of planes that successfully carrying passengers on their way. 

  In order to calm nervous passengers planes had stewardesses that were also nurses. This was a difficult job because not only did they comfort sick or frightened people they had to load the luggage! They had to assist the pilots in refueling and even help the pilot push the plane into a hangar. They also had to be under twenty five, weigh less than 115 and less than 5ft 4 in.  Not the usual job for women but the pay was terrific by 1920s by standards. $125 dollars a month was a lot of money in those days.

   The first woman hired was Ellen Church. She of course was a nurse and had a calm demeanor. She was in charge of hiring more women for this job.   In order to make passengers more comfortable stewardesses passed out cotton to put in their ears. They also chewed gum that seemed to help.

   The planes in the 20s were all metal not cloth and the most popular plane was the Ford Trimotor. It carried 15 passengers and airmail. The government allowed mail and passengers to fly making aviation profitable. The passenger planes in the 20s were not comfortable and they were cold because the cabins weren’t pressurized. Flying was only for the wealthy. And many times flight flying was slower and more comfortable than taking a train. Planes also had to stop often for refueling so the flight was often longer than the train.

  Aviation in the 20s had inflight movies but now into the 30s 30s passengers could listen to live radio. Headsets were provided and passengers we’re happy to listen to radio programs and not the noise created by the motors. The first movie was called The Lost World.

  The changes in aviation in the 30s were caused by the advancements in technology. The change from fabric and wood to metal planes made them stronger. They could fly longer and higher and  could stand climate changes better than the planes of the 20s. 

   For example, it was so cold but blankets were provided. The noise was horrible but the air stewardesses passed out cotton balls and chewing gum. Flying round trip would cost about $260 in the 30s. The 30s brought a new thrill flying from coast to coast and even flying across the ocean. This was only available for the wealthy movie stars, politicians and successful businessmen.

  In 1927 the first airport terminal and waiting room, and ticket office was available. Obviously very few people could afford this kind of travel except very wealthy people. It opened up the world for many. In the 30’s technology grew quickly.  It became more common for wealthy people to travel by plane than the train. For those traveling abroad many chose to fly rather than take a slower ride by ship. 

  In my next post I will tell you more about flying in the 1940s. The new innovations were tremendous but it wasn’t till the 50s that The Golden Age of Aviation started.

  

  

  

 

Fay Gillis Wells

The Ninety-Nines, Inc.® on Twitter: "Fay Gillis Wells earned her pilot's license in 1929. She was hired by Curtis Wright to demonstrate & sell their aircraft across the United States. She also

                                                   Fay In Her Self Designed Flying Suit

                                                                        (Twitter)

  Fay Gillis Wells was born in 1908 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was well-known for her contributions to aviation. She was a charter member of the 99s. In 1929 Amelia formed the group called the 99s named for the 99 women pilots who responded to a letter sent by Fay Gillis Wells. The letter asked the women if they wanted to go to join the 99s and come to the first meeting. Amelia became the president and Fay wa appointed secretary of the organization.

 In my aunt’s memorabilia I found a letter signed by Fay Gillis Wells and twenty-two women that attended this first meeting. It was sent to all 117 women pilots and ninety nine women joined. That’s why the group is named the 99s.

Women at the meeting were very well dressed even though they met in a hangar at Curtis Field but Fay wore overalls, a helmet and goggles. Amelia thought that they needed each other’s support because they were in a man’s world.

I learned that my aunt never became a member of the 99’s. Aunt Vicky was one of the first Jewish women pilots and there was a lot of discrimination at that time. Maybe she felt uncomfortable joining but I really don’t believe that this was her reason. The organization was open to any woman who had a pilot’s license and Vicky received her license in 1931 when she was 40 years old. Maybe she felt she was too old or not an experienced pilot like so many in the 99’s. 

    In the 1930s she was a freelance correspondent in the Soviet Union and also wrote for New York Herald Tribune, the Associated Press, and many aviation magazines.

  In 1934 Fay married Linton Wells who was also a journalist. He asked her to help cover the Italian- Ethiopian war. She accompanied him and they both wrote articles for the New York Herald Tribune. Fay thought this trip would be exciting but she wished that they could go on a honeymoon instead. She chose Ethiopia. 

  Wiley Post asked Fay if she wanted to go on his trip around the world. She told him no because she had made up her mind to go to Ethiopia with her husband. Instead, Wiley asked Will Rogers to go with him. Unfortunately, they both died in a plane crash.

  When Fay and Linton returned to New York where she purchased a cheetah and a leopard. These two unusual pets lived with the couple in their apartment. When they moved to California the pets came with them. 

   Fay was the first member of the Caterpillar Club. She used a parachute to leave a disabled plane in order to save her life.

  This feisty woman was the first woman to sell aircraft. It makes me think of my Aunt Vicky who also sold and demonstrated planes for manufactures. 

  Fay and her husband were asked by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to go to Africa to look for a possible homeland for the Jewish people. She was a White House correspondent for thirteen years covering news for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. She was asked by President Nixon to go with him and write articles on his historic trip to China.

  Fay also went to the Soviet Union and wrote about their aviation and demonstrated the country’s planes. She was the first woman to fly in the Soviet Union.

In the late 30s Fay ended her life in flying when she did not renew her license. In 1946 her only son Linton Wells 11 was born in Angola. Then they returned back to the United States.

  Fay never lost her interest in aviation. In 1962 she helped introduce a stamp to honor Amelia Earhart. She announced this at the 99’s first international convention. 

  In 1976 Fay was instrumental in forming the International Forest of Friendship. The arboretum has trees from every state and many different countries. It honors Fay Gillis Wells for her contributions to aviation and journalism. When you walk through this beautiful place you can see plaques from other famous aviators.

 At 92 Fay flew and landed a plane. That’s an incredible accomplishment that few women or men had done. Fay died in November 2002 at the age of 94. Her legacy still lives on in the International Forest of Friendship. 

Read about Fay’s experiences in aviation and journalism. 

In the Air and On the Air by Lillian F. Brinnon and Howard J. Fried

   

Amelia Earhart and her Fashion Line

Amelia Earhart: Using Fashion to Inspire Flight | National Air and Space Museum

                                                   (Smithsonian Air and Space Museum) 

  Few people today know that Amelia Earhart had a line of clothes in the 30s. She is said to have designed them herself. Today you can only see her clothing at museums like the Hanford Carnegie Museum. Her clothing line was called “Amelia Fashions” and she was the first celebrity to produce a line of clothes. It consisted of dresses, trousers, and suits. They ranged from casual sport clothes to elegant dresses.

   As a child she sewed her own clothes and then she became interested in fashion as an adult. Amelia wanted money to finance her long distance flights. Amelia’s husband, George Putnam wanted her to make speaking engagements and write books and all she wanted to do was fly. It seems that he controlled her life so that he could make money.

  Amelia’s line began in 1933 and could be bought at Macy’s, Marshall Fields and many other well-known stores across the country. In the beginning the clothes sold very well but the sales because the clothes were were moderately priced. She was an icon and she assumed that her clothing would sell quickly just like her books. George probably was angry when the clothes stopped selling. He was hoping that he wouldn’t have to put in any of his own money. The books, the speaking engagements and then the clothing would cover the costs of her trips.

Women’s Home Companion featured her patterns so women could make them at home. This idea was part of Amelia’s help women save money. The public only saw pictures of Amelia where she wore goggles, a bomber jacket and a scarf. When women were aware of her clothing they were surprised because they had only seen pictures of her in her flight attire.

   She was determined to make clothes for women pilots. The flying suits that existed in the 20s were made for men so she decided to design a suit that fits a woman’s body. She did this in her hotel room with George supervising every detail. He thought of her as his “cash cow” and that she would make him wealthily and famous.

   Amelia was the first woman who made separates like skirts and blouses or suit jackets. Her clothes were washable which was very important in this hard economic time. These two pieces could be interchangeable and could accommodate women that needed a jacket in one size and a skirt in another. This idea backfired because women wouldn’t have to buy as many outfits. She and George liked the idea it but cut sales.  

   Women began driving a car, going on a vacation by plane and even played sports. This change in society made Amelia know that women needed clothes that would be comfortable and fit properly. Amelia was annoyed that women’s shirts never stayed in the skirt. She designed one that was longer than average and stayed tucked in. When flying long distance Amelia had to stop in various towns along the way. She would be greeted by the town officials so she changed out of her flying clothes and wore more appropriate ones. They had a banquet dinner for her and then she gave her talk about her experiences during her flights. She didn’t like to give talks at all. Amelia just wanted to fly to the next town. George made all these arrangements so that there were no problems for Amelia or him.

  Her clothing line was aeronautically themed. She included buttons shaped like propellers and hats made from parachute silk. That seems so unusual that women who admired her would automatically want her clothes. The line was popular for a time but sales dwindled quickly.

  It was believed that Amelia didn’t make the clothes herself but her personality was seen in them. In public Amelia was dressed elegantly and was featured in Vogue and Cosmopolitan magazines. She even worked as an editor for Cosmopolitan and modeled for ads. Some of Amelia’s clothing emphasizes her mannish look but this was really not true because she was a beautiful woman who had a style all her own. She enjoyed wearing neutral colors and sometimes layered neutral colors. Colorful scarves were important part of her wardrobe because they added class to the neutral colors. 

  The depression and her aviation activities caused the demise of her line of clothing. Still in 1934 she was named  one of the best dressed Women in America by the Fashion Designers of America. It was very important for Amelia to promote women’s rights like women’s right to vote. Amelia Earhart was known for her flying expertise but she cared about women and their role in society. She felt that women should be accepted in non traditional roles. It’s interesting  to know that Amelia was more than a pilot. 

The world lost a very daring and brave woman on her last flight. There are many theories about what happened to Amelia but her achievements will last for ever. Amelia disappeared on July 2, 1937 and was declared dead.

20 hrs.,40 minutes   1928

The Fun Of It             1932

 Last Flight                 1938

Leah Hing: A Chinese American Pilot

 

Clark County History: First Chinese American woman pilot - Columbian.com

                          Chinese American Pilot Who Aided Chinese Immigrants (Columbian.com)

In honor of Chinese New Year I post this profile of a Chinese-American pilot. This is a very special honor for Chinese- American citizens. Though out our countries history these has been so much discrimination of Chinese. In the 30s and 40s Leah Hing was the first Chinese American to obtain a pilot’s instrument and  mechanics license. After  a 15 minute lesson she was able to fly and land a plane. The instructor was amazed because no one he had ever taught was able to catch on so quickly.

Leah’s goal was to teach Chinese women how to fly. Like others I have profiled, she wanted to prove that women could fly as well as men. She became known because of the newspaper articles about her and was called the “Chinese Miss Lindy.”

  China was in turmoil when the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931. She was living in Portland and it became the center for a Chines flight school  

  Leah told her father that she wanted to go to China and fight the Japanese. She said that we have family there and I want to help as a fighter pilot. He would not allow her to go but he bought her a plane and she flew in many air shows across the West Coast. She logged 200 hours of flying time but still wished she could have gone back to China.

  Leah like many  pilots had her share of accidents. In 1936 a plane taxied into her plane and it caught on fire. She was lucky that no one that she was not injured. She flew an open cockpit plane and crashed when she was landing in Seattle. The plane was damaged but again she was not hurt. 

  Leah was angry that her father wouldn’t let her go back to China to help the Chinese fight the invading Japanese. So she remained in Portland and was became active in the West Coast Civil Air Patrol. She was also a member of the 99s which was an advocacy group for women pilots that became the 99s.Unfortunately, she was not allowed membership  because she was Chinese. Leah became active in the Chinese community in Portland. She was sad that her flying days were over and was glad to be a passenger.

 She was a volunteer that helped Chinese immigrants attain United States citizenship. This was a very difficult time due to the Chinese exclusion act of 1882. This act only allowed 105 Chinese to enter the United States. It took until 1943 that Chinese people in the United States could become naturalized citizens. 

She died in 2001 from heart failure. Those that knew Leah Hing believed that she loved her life and didn’t stop doing what she loved.

 

Ethel Dare Stunt Woman

Wing walker awed locals - News - The St. Augustine Record - St. Augustine, FL

                                                                        From Car To Plane                        

Ethel “Ethel Dare” Gilmore Johnson became the most famous wing walker in the country. She answered an advertisement for a woman who would jump off the wing of a plane. It was 1917 and she was performing in the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Ethel was up to the challenge and took the name of Ethel Dare. Her name sure fit her. According to reports she didn’t seem scared at all.    Ethel looked death in the eye every time she performed. Some of her outrageous stunts took spectators breath away. 

  There was a controversy about who was the real Ethel Dare. Several people claimed that they were.  Some say she was Ethel Mann Dare, or Ethel Gilmore Harris or Lady Anomar. She was married three times and Ethel performed under different names. 

  • She was the first person to jump from one speeding plane to another. Ethel did this 30 times.
  • She performed jumps into Lake Michigan in Illinois.
  • She washed her hair while standing on the wing of a plane.
  •  At a state fair in Nashville, Ethel completed two of the most perfect balloon drops. Newspapers reported that her stunt was the best ever performed. 
  • She tested parachutes.

  In her last performance luck wasn’t on her side. Ethel started her wing-walking when she fell more than 700 feet because her parachute did not open. She died in 1924. Today there are acts that use wing-walkers but in 1920 it must if been incredible to see Ethel Dare. Most people had never even seen a plane before. There were women that thought it should be against the law to do such dangerous stunts. Other women thought that they belonged in the kitchen not walking on a wing of a plane.

  Few people have hear of Ethel Dare. It is my pleasure to bring her out of the shadows.  

Wilma Brown – A Determined Woman

 

Preview(opens in a new tab)

              Willa Brown - Wikipedia                                                                  

 Wilma wanted the federal government to admit black pilots into the segregated Army Air Corps and the civilian pilot training program. The Army War College said blacks would never be accomplished pilots but Wilma proved them wrong. Two hundred pilots were trained by the Coffey School went on be part of the Tuskegee Airmen.

  It was amazing that in 1946 Wilma was the first black to run for Congress. She didn’t win but she was a strong and ambitious woman to attempt this high position in the government. For the rest of her life she fought to have the Army Air Corps to become an integrated force. She was honored to be member of the Federal Aviation Administration Women’s Advisory Board.

In 1948 President Truman wrote an executive order to desegregate the military. This was very important to Wilma and was pleased that one of her goals did come true.

Wilma Brown should be remembered as the person who helped black men and women pilots to be known as pilots not black pilots. Today they are serving in all areas of aviation and they owe that right to Wilma Brown.

 

 

Janet Harmon Bragg

Janet Harmon Bragg: Female Aviator | Smithsonian Institution Archives

 Most of my posts have centered on women pilots of the 20s and 30’s. I have decided to tell you the story of continuing discrimination in the 40s. 

  Janet Bragg was a black woman who wanted to receive her pilot’s license. White instructors didn’t allow her to receive it. In 1943 she did receive her license at  Pal- Waukee Airport near Wheeling, Illinois. 

  Janet was a nurse but her goal was to become a pilot. In 1933 she became the only women that enrolled in the Curtis Wright School of Aeronautics. She was very interested in aircraft mechanics even with the objection from the men she passed the tests.

  Interesting to note that she wasn’t able to fly out of an airport that was owned by a white man. Janet was very driven and decided to help fund an airport in Robbins, Illinois because Robbins was an all black town. What a perfect place for black women and men to learn to fly. 

  This strong and ambitious lady earned her license to fly but was turned down when she wanted to enter the Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots known as the WASPS. She trained for her commercial pilots license but her first examiner wouldn’t give her the license because she was a woman and black. She finally did receive her commercial license from another instructor.

 Because Janet was a nurse Janet was turned down when he applied to be a military nurse. She was told that there were too many Negro nurses at that time. We all know the truth that she was turned down because she was a woman. 

  In 1939 Janet started the only program to help blacks learn to fly. The Civilian Pilot Training Program would train black people that wanted to learn to fly.

  Soon there was a need for pilots to help in the World War 11 effort to fly the wounded men to bases with hospitals. Again discrimination reared its ugly head. She was turned down again.

  In 1943 Janet met Jacqueline Cochran, who helped found the WASPS. She still wasn’t allowed to join. 

  Janet was determined to help Negro women to become pilots. She began to write for the Chicago Defender newspaper which served the Negro community called The “Negro in Aviation. 

  Was in the forefront of being a founder and chairman member of the Challenger air pilots Association and later was named the Coffey School of Aeronautics. This was a National Air group for black pilots. This group was influential in the start of the Tuskegee Army Airmen. In 1941 President Truman allowed black men into the military.

  Janet stopped flying in 1965 but continued her speaking about the need for more women in aviation. Janet’s efforts led to women becoming hired in many fields of aviation. Today they are pilots, mechanics, even in the military. When Janet was flying most people thought that black women couldn’t perform as well as whites. Janet proved them wrong and black women working in aviation today should know about Janet Bragg and be thankful to her for leading the way.