Edna Gardner Whyte was a name I found in my Aunt Victorine Florsheim Lederer memorabilia. My aunt was a pilot in the 30’s and so was Edna. I found the right address and wrote her not expecting to hear from her.
I want asked if she remembered my aunt. She said she did and that and that she knew she was the only Jewish woman pilot. She said that her memorabilia was stored away and she couldn’t get to it. She wanted to help me more but just couldn’t. She wished me luck and hoped that I would be able to find more information from other pilots.
- With her letter, Edna sent a long profile of herself. In this post, I will acquaint you with a very unusual woman.
- Edna was born in 1902 but didn’t receive her pilot’s license until 1930. My aunt received her’s in 1931 so they might have known each other.
- She joined an organization called the Betsy Ross Corps. It was formed to use the airplane in order to help people in emergency situations.
- In 1933 she received her transport license
- Entered 1933 the All Women’s Air meet. This race was named for the pilot Annette Gibson
- 1934 she participated in the first women’s national air meet
- 1935 she applied to fly for Central Airlines but was turned down because she was a woman
- 1938 profiled in “Look” magazine for being earning the most flying time of a woman pilot…2,888 hours
1940 Edna applied for being a pilot for Braniff airlines. Again she was turned down because she was a woman
When I received her letter in 1987 she was in her late 80’s but flying every day. She owned an airport in Roanoke, Texas. She named it Aero Valley. Edna won more than 80 different aviation awards. Her greatest honor was the Charles Lindbergh Lifetime Achievement Award. Incredibly, Edna won 130 air races and flew 30,000 hours.
I started my research on women pilots in 1987 and wished I had met this exciting woman. She died in 1992. Edna faced discrimination because she was a woman but continued to aim for the sky. All this information about Edna convinced me that she is a woman you should know.
Parachutist Tiny Broaderick
Tiny Broderick was a unique women who was became the first woman to parachute out of an airplane.she was a extraordinarily brave women and lead to many other stunt pilots of future decades. One of the most famous today is Patty Wagstaff. Maybe she channelled Tiny Broadwick. One of her most famous stunts she performed was Tiny hanging from a trapeze-like swing under an airplane manufacturer Glenn L. Martin. She was below the wing of the plane. She performed this stunt about 2,000 feet’s over Los Angeles. Incredibly, she lifted a lever to make a seat drop from under her. This stunt was so dangerous because her parachute was attached to the plane by a string and opened automatically which allowed Tiny to float safely the the ground. Next Tiny was the first woman to parachute into a lake…Lake Michigan. The army contacted her to help men to learn to jump from a plane. A stunt didn’t go well and she became the first person to use a type of “ripcord” for free fall to the ground. This stunt became very important for pilots in World War 1 to be able survive after their plane was hit. Ordinarily the soldiers died when their plane was hit.
- She demonstrated parachutes to the United States Army.
- Retirement from jumping in 1922 and had made over 1,100 jumps.
- Member of Early Birds of Aviation even though she wasn’t a pilot
- First woman to parachute into water in 1914
- First to jump out of a hot air balloon
- Tiny appeared on You Bet Your Life November 10 1955
- Appeared on To Tell The Truth on March 30, 1964
In 1939 the adventure comic strip Flyin’ Jenny was the first one that featured a girl. Up till Flyin’ Jenny the comics were dominated by strong male pilots. Now there was a strong girl named Jenny Dare. The strip became an instant hit with girls who never thought that they could fly.
It was illustrated by Russell Keaton, and distributed by Bell Syndication from 19-1946. Jenny Dare was a pretty blonde girl featured at Flyin’ Jenny. She was a test pilot for the fictional Starcraft Aviation Factory. She became involved in murder, intrigue, and of course romance. As the United States entered World War 11 Jenny flew missions for Army Intelligence and was involved in combat missions in Europe.
Unlike other comic strips Flyin’ Jenny featured paper dolls once a month. This Sunday title was called Jenny’s Style Shop.
Flyin’ Jenny attracted young girls interest in aviation. This was a man’s world that girls thought they now had a chance to enter.
There is a interesting history of Flyin’ Jenny.
- Flyin jenny (ginny, jinny, or jinnier) was used for amusement rides like the merry-go-round where the riders seemed to fly around in a circle.
- A World War I bi-plane became know as a Curtiss JN-4 or “Jenny.”
- Keaton one of the illustrators of the comic strip became flight instructor.
- In 1921 Lee De Forestin made a short film called “Flying Jenny Airplane.” It included the sound of the plane.
This post is a look at the culture of the aviation world in the 30’s and 40’s. I love everything about aviation so I thought I would write about this subject. I hope it is interesting to you.
More information on Flyin’ Jenny
- The Aviation Art of Russell Keaton by Kitchen Sink Press…1995
- Don Markstein’s Toonopedia
1st. airplane radio broadcast
Ruth Nichols was a pilot during the Golden Age of Aviation. She was named the”Flying Debutante” because of her wealthy upbringing. Her family disapproved of her interest in flying but she went ahead to earn a name for herself in aviation. Accomplishments:
- Her first flight was in 1919 and through her career she flew more than 140 different planes. Ruth flew gliders, auto-gyros, transports, seaplanes and even biplanes.
- She was the first women to earn three simultaneous international records for distance, speed and altitude.
- Flew in the First All Women Air Derby.
- One of the first women to compete in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race in 1931.
- Helped form the 99’s to support women in the field of Aviation
- Co-founded the Aviation Country Club. She flew all over the country to publicize this unique place. The clubs were supposed to be in many different states but The Depression caused the demise of these clubs.
- Developed Relief Wings… a humanitarian organization that used private planes to help with disaster and emergency work
- Became a Lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol
- Founded Sportsman Pilot magazine
- Round the world plane tour for UNICEF
- First woman to land in all 48 contiguous states
Ruth deserves to be more well known and that is my intention for all the women pilots that I profile. She never received the success of Amelia due to many crashes. She wanted to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic but she never fulfilled that wish. She believed that her failures were due to mechanical problems not her ability to control the plane. I hope that after you read this story you will be able to say There’s More Than Amelia.
Read more about Ruth Nichols unique life in her autobiography, Wings for Life: The Story of the First Lady of the Air.” The forward was written by Richard E. Byrd the American aviator and polar explorer. The book was published in in 1957 by J.B. Lippincott and is available on Amazon.
“Never Give Up!” by Paul Lambert is a wonderful biography about a woman who never stopped her journey through life. Pearl Carter Scott became the youngest pilot in America. The book traces the story of her parents, siblings, and her life as pilot. She started to fly at twelve years old because her father allowed her to follow her passion and later to be a leader of her Chickasaw Nation.
As aviation historian I found this book well written and the authentic pictures of her family enhanced the story. Each page was full of information about a woman I never knew. I became aware of Pearl from the movie “Pear” that was a fine depiction of Pearl as a strong and unique young girl. The movie tells the story of Pearls early years and how she became a pilot. Her story inspired me to keep writing no matter how long and hard it is for me. Read the book and see the movie and you will be inspired too. I only wish I had contacted her before she died in 2005.
I will continue to write about unknown women pilots because it is important to bring awareness of these women to the general public and out of the shadows. Please read my next post about women aviators and the culture of the aviation community.
I also will “never give up” in my quest to learn more about my PASSION…AVIATION.
Look at the world of aviation…past, present and future. Read my ABOUT PAGE and my post MORE ABOUT ME then you will find out why I call myself a PLANE NUT.
Wishing You Blue Skies and Calm Winds