Thursday, December 29, 2016

WASP Museum Press Release - Vultee BT-13

I'm sharing the entire press release, let's see how it appears on my blog.

I have some exciting news to share with you, today.
Recently, I received a phone call from Captain Jim Johns of the American Aviation Heritage Foundation asking if I would accept a restored Vultee BT-13 as a gift. Vultee BT-13 in Flight During WWII
This is the same model that Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) like Elizabeth (Liz) "Betty" Wall Strohfus trained on and flew during WWII!
I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I said yes.
Maintaining a 1943 airplane and keeping it in flying condition is a huge commitment, but I said yes because I know that I can count on dedicated WASP supporters like you to help.
Barbara, I'm sure you know just how important having an airworthy BT-13 (one of the few still flying today) is to keeping the memory of the WASP alive for future generations.
This magnificent airplane will fly across the country bringing the inspiring story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots to life for young people, who otherwise would never learn how the WASP forever changed the role of women in aviation (because they are too often left out of American history).
Vultee BT-13
As you can imagine, maintaining this magnificent warbird in airworthy condition will cost thousands of dollars - but I hope you'll agree that it's worth every penny.
It will be the gift that keeps on giving... educating future generations of Americans on the important role the WASP played in America's victory in WWII.
But not without your help.
Captain James Johns, Board Member, Aviation Heritage FoundationThis magnificent BT-13 will be the centerpiece of our efforts to keep the memory of the WASP alive by inspiring future generations of Americans with their story.
So critical is this plane to our mission, that Captain Jim Johns (US Army Aviation, Retired) dedicated countless hours in search of a BT-13 to restore in honor of the WASP.
We are so grateful to the American Aviation Heritage Foundation and their volunteers who have donated their time and talents to restore this magnificent aircraft to help carry on the legacy of these brave, pioneering women who dropped everything to answer the call to serve when their country needed them.
When the restoration began, they declared, "This One's for the Girls!"
After 5 years of restoration, Captain Johns and his volunteers expect to have our BT-13 ready to make the flight home from Minnesota to Texas in early Spring!
It will cost us $3,375 annually to carry airplane insurance and liabilty. Required annual inspections will cost between $1,500 and $2,000 per year to keep her flying. And it will cost $562 in fuel just to fly her one time from Minnesota to Texas (aviation fuel can be as costly as $8 per gallon/$9 in larger metropolitan areas).
To help us reach our goal of $14,587 by year end, would you send a gift of:
  • $281 - Covers one month of insurance;
  • $150 - One-tenth of the cost for an annual inspection;
  • $73 - Representative of the number of years it's been since the WASP flew BT-13's at Avenger Field;
  • $38 - One dollar for each WASP who died in service to her country; or
  • $19.42 - Representative of the year the WASP first took flight.
Liz with the BT-13As a thank you to the first 150 people to send in a donation of $72 or more, I will send you a copy of "And Still Flying... The Life and Times of Elizabeth (Liz) 'Betty' Wall."
You have been so generous to support the WASP Museum in the past, so I hope I can count on you to help bring this very special plane home where it belongs.
With your help, our BT-13 will serve as a testament to the heroism and bravery of the 1,102 women who put their own lives on hold and on the line to serve our country at its greatest time of need.
  This One's For the Girls!

Carol Cain, Associate Director
Carol Cain, Associate Director
National WASP WWII Museum
P.S. Don't delay! The first 150 to send in a gift of $72 or more will receive "And Still Flying... The Life and Times of Elizabeth 'Betty' Wall" as a thank you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sad news from Afghanistan - first woman AirForce pilot not safe in her own country

Here's the link to the news from CNN:

And here's the first three paragraphs of the article:
(CNN)Three years ago, Niloofar Rahmani became the first woman to earn her wings in Afghanistan's air force. But her place in history as an international symbol of female empowerment and courage has effectively cost her the ability to live in her homeland.
Now, she's seeking asylum in the United States. 
Capt. Rahmani said it's no longer safe for her to live in Afghanistan. Her attorney, Kimberly Motley, said her client has received numerous threats from insurgents and condemnation from government officials.
 It's definitely hard to empower women in hard-line Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. (Women in Saudia Arabia can't drive, can't leave home without a male relative, etc.)

I remember in one of the Olympics, there was a Muslim woman competitor from one of these hard-line Islamic countries - clothed from head to toe while she ran a marathon or something. Lots of people were proud of her, but not anyone in her own country who believed she brought disgrace on womanhood by running in front of a bunch of men. She should have been home where she belonged....

Sunday, December 18, 2016

3 free downloads available from

At the time of this posting I'm offering three free downloads on my website,

They are all PDFs.

One is the Storybook Version of the 1969 Powder Puff Derby, featuring Steve Canyon's sister and pilot Bitsy Beekman. Milton Caniff wrote it especially for the PPD, or All Woman Transcontinental Air Race of 1969.

One is an illustrated guide to all 100 of the Smithsonian Institutions Milestones of Flight series. Includes an image of the cachet/first day cover, and text on each cover.

The third is a PDF of Linda Finch's first newsletter for her 1997 World Flight, in which she recreated and completed Amelia Earhart's final flight in a restored Lockheed Electra.

So please check them out.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

John Glenn has died.

Here's a link to the news article regarding his death. At the age of 95 - that's a long, full life!

John Glenn NASA Astronaut
John Glenn became the oldest person to go into space, at age 77, on October 29, 1998 when he was part of Discovery's STS-95 mission. He had "won his seat on the Shuttle flight by lobbying NASA for two years to fly as a human guinea pig for geriatric studies.

This prompted Jerrie Cobb to urge NASA to let her go into space.

Jerrie Cobb was one of the Mercury 13 - a group of 13 woman who took all the tests that the male astronauts did during the Mercury program, and passed them, but were denied the opportunity to go into space.

Unfortunately, NASA turned her down.

Monday, December 5, 2016

She's the first local Malay woman to become a commercial pilot

Here's an article from a Singapore online newspaper from two days ago

She's the first local Malay woman to become a commercial pilot

SINGAPORE - Commercial pilot Farhain Abu Bakar is making waves in the aviation sector, a largely male-dominated industry.

Ms Farhain, 29, who flies with Scoot-Tigerair, was recently promoted to first officer. She is the first local Malay woman to become a commercial pilot, according to Berita Harian. 

She was profiled in the Malay newspaper last Sunday (Nov 27), and is one of 17 female pilots in Scoot and Tigerair, which have a combined pilot roster of 399. 

Singapore is an up-and-coming economy - one of the most profitable and largest in Asia. In their aviation sector, women pilots make up only 1% of the pilot force.

She's a "first officer," not a captain, which means she doesn't sit in the "left seat" or "captain's seat" but it's progress.

Of course reaching the position of First Officer is only 10% of the battle. Will her male compatriots treat her with respect or make things difficult for her? Will passengers throw a fit if they learn their co-pilot is a woman?

Time will tell.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Women pilot Lucknow's first Metro run (passenger trains, India)

is the link to a news story from the Times of India stating that two women train "pilots" were given the job of piloting this Lucknow Metro.

India is a country that's not that kind to women, for all that supposedly there are more women doctors in India then there are in the United States. India has that "Untouchables" thing going on, as well as the "Dowry" thing going on, where if a woman doesn't have a dowry she can't get a husband, etc. (Easiest solution to that would be to abolish the dowry system, but I guess it's "cultural."

I'm sharing this story here because it's very much a part of The Freedom Stea ethos - women sitting in the command chair and proving their mettle.

A couple of days ago I did a search on "Women Pilots' from 1900 to 1910, at the digitized newspaper repository,  because I wanted to see when the term "pilot" for the pilot of a plane first came into use - the Wright brothers referred to themselves as "operators" and in France they were "aviatiors."

I was shocked to find - in the headlines - mentions of "women pilots" as early as 1907 - well before the first women had taken to the skies.

Turns out the news articles were referring to *steamboat* pilots. In the early 1900s there were a handful of women pilots of steamboats - in fact the term pilot itself, used for everything else, has its originations in nautical activity.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Two women pilots for Zeppelin craft

I've been researching women balloonists. From 1890 to 1900, at least one woman balloonist (they'd work at fairs and would go up in balloons only to perform on a trapeze underneath the balloon and then jump by parachute 2,000 feet to the ground.)

From there I segued to doing a bit of research on dirigibles (so called because "dirigible" is French for "direction," and being able to direct a dirigible via engine and steering apparatus is what differentiates a hot air or hydrogen balloon from a dirigible).

As of 2012 when this article was written, there were two female Zeppelin pilots in the world, one in the United States and one in Germany:

From General Aviation News, June 14, 2012 by : America’s first female Zeppelin pilot takes off
Andrea Deyling has joined Airship Ventures in the San Francisco Bay area as an airship pilot, becoming America’s first female Zeppelin pilot. A licensed LTA pilot, Deyling has been training on the Zeppelin Eureka since November 2011 and officially earned her Zeppelin qualification this month.  
In climbing into the left seat of the world’s largest passenger airship, Deyling becomes the 22nd pilot qualified to fly the Zeppelin NT. There is only one other female pilot in this elite group, Katharine Board, who had previously piloted Eureka and now pilots a Zeppelin NT in Germany.
Sadly, as I just learned when I checked out Airship Ventures website,  the company ceased operations six months later.

They have a legacy site: Airship Ventures.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Flyin' Jenny World War II comic strip

I'm working on my Powerpoint presention, The Freedom Seat: A History of Women in Aviation, which I'll teaching February 25 and March 4 at Laramie County Community College, for the LIFE (Learning is for Everyone) program.

I'll be giving this and other seminars about women in aviation and automobiling history at LCCC and other venues in the Rocky Mountains from now on.

So, while working on my presentation, I decided I'd include a bit of information on the history of lighter-than-air craft - namely women pilots of balloons and dirigibles prior to 1903.

I have an account with, and did a search on Aida de Acosta, the 19-year-old girl who flew Alberto Santos-Dumont's dirigible across Paris in May 1903, thus becoming the first American and the first woman to pilot a powered, controlled, lighter-than-air craft.

There was an article on Aida de Acosta in a 1933 newspaper, and above that article was a comic strip, Tailspin Tommy, featuring a male adventurer and pilot, Tailspin Tommy. Funnily enough, the comic strip featured a "strong" female character (at least in this particular installment) whom Tailspin Tommy entrusts with a gun and orders her, "If anyone comes, shoot!" And he apparently expects that she'll do it!

In the next panel, the character says, "I don't like being ordered around, but because it's Tailspin Tommy, I like it."  Well, that's a paraphrase, but you get the idea.

Anyway, at the Wikipedia page for Tailspin Tommy, the author of that entry listed other aviation-based comic strips including Flyin' Jenny. (The title is an in-joke - the Flying Jenny is the nickname of a plane, the Curtiss JN-4 known as a Jenny.)

I'd never heard of this comic strip before, which debuted at the start of WWII and saw the female pilot "a test pilot at the Starcraft Aviation Factory, Jenny encountered spies, saboteurs and criminals. Since the strip began simultaneously with the start of World War II, Jenny was active in wartime escapades."

That page had a link to a comic strip encyclopedia, and on the Flyin' Jenny page there, there was a mention of a strip called Connie, which was actually the first woman-as-pilot comic strip ever. That strip debuted in 1927.

Connie the pilot
There are a few Flyin' Jennie comic strip Sunday strips available at eBay, and I'll probably pick up a few to use as displays for my seminars.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Freedom Seat Seminars website is now live!

I've got a lot more stuff to add to the site - I'll be sharing photos of my collection of women-in-aviation memorabilia, sample chapters of the book I'm writing and so on, but I decided I may as well make it live now.

The first seminars I'll be teaching will be at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming, February 25 and March 4.

Front page of The Freedom Seat Seminars website.