because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Elinor Smith

Elinor Smith was the youngest licensed pilot in the world in 1927. She was sixteen years old at the time and had already been going up in planes for a decade. When she started taking formal flying lessons (at 10), the instructor had to put wooden blocks on the pedals so her feet would reach them. And before she was even licensed, she was taking her father's Waco 9 to altitudes no one else was even talking about, officially setting the world light plane altitude record of 11,889 feet only three months after she first soloed.

After honing her skills for a couple of years, Smith took a dare and successfully flew a Waco 10 under all four of New York City's east bridges, which got her the hand slap of 15-days grounded and a lot of publicity as "The Flying Flapper of Freeport" (the community on Long Island, New York, where she lived). Over the next year (and before her nineteenth birthday), Smith soloed more than 26 hours -- straight! -- in a Bellanca CH monoplane; flew 190.8 mph in a Curtis military aircraft; became an Executive Pilot for the Irving Chute Company; set an endurance record (with in-your-face woman Bobbi Trout) of 42-1/2 hours in the air which demanded an in-air refueling, of course; added a mile to her altitude record; and won a position as an aeronautics broadcaster for NBC.

After she married, Smith spent twenty years taking care of her family, and then, when her husband died, she returned to flying for another forty-five years and was still flying experimental aircraft for the military at the age of eighty-nine. In-your-face women make time -- if they want to -- to do it all!

No comments:

Post a Comment