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.

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