Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Profile: Alma Heflin - first American woman Test Pilot

Alma Heflin was born on September 2, 1910 in Winona, Missouri, and died in 2000. Her father was Irvin Heflin, her mother Nora Heflin nee Kelley.
Heflin learned to fly in 1934. While not flying, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington College in 1936.
In 1940, she and a friend, Margie McQuin, took a Piper Cub called Mister Shrdlu on a vacation to Alaska. She wrote an account of their trip in Adventure Was the Compass, published in 1942.
First of 6-page comic book story featuring Alma Heflin
She went to work as a test pilot for the Piper Aircraft Company, and test flew the Piper Cub. Her first flight as a test pilot was of a single wing two-seater on November 12, 1941. She also became the editor of Cub Flyer magazine.  

From Click Magazine
In 1943 when the WASP sent out a call for women pilots, Alma Heflin joined, but did not complete the program.

After the end of the war, she went on to earn her Master’s degree in Education from Eastern Washington College in 1949.
In 1949 she also published a second book, the semi-autobiographical novel Merry Makes a Choice, and in the same year married an Air Force Pilot named McCormick.
In 1953, Alma founded a department for helping severely mentally disabled children in the Tri-City Public Schools in Richland, Washington. In 1955 she was the co-founder and direction of the Adastra School for Gifted Children in Seattle, which she ran until 1964.
She went on to earn her PhD at Clayton University in 1977, and continued her career as a child psychologist.
A chapter of her book Adventure was the Compass can be found in the book Into the Blue: American Writing on Aviation and Spaceflight, edited by Joseph J. Com.  You can read it here:
Profile: Prabook
Test-pilots (Popular Mechanics, digitized at Google Books)

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