As I mentioned in my post “Aviator Women” at The Traveling Alchemist, I am posting Part 2 here, as there have been other women fliers who lived and are living ‘on the edge’ as risk-takers, daredevils, and adventurers.
In general I like to fly in airplanes, especially the smaller varieties, because I can feel the physicality of it, the physics of it. I don’t fly often, and when I do it’s usually in a large airliner. So although I’m mostly removed from an intimate relationship with an aircraft, I am so impressed by the women who ventured and who are venturing into aviation to fulfill their ambitions and their destinies.
As I researched women associated with military service and military aircraft, I also learned of other women who made inroads in aviation in other ways. And these women came from all over the world, and their names and accomplishments are recorded in aviation history.
Of course, most people know about Amelia Earheart, an American aviator who disappeared while on a solo “Around the World” flight in 1937. In 1931 she became the first president of an elite group of women pilots known today as the Ninety-nines, named for the 99 charter members, many of whom came from other countries. “Although there are other female pilot organizations in various states and nations, virtually all women of achievement in aviation have been or are members of The Ninety-Nines.” (http://www.ninety-nines.org/index.cfm/about_the_organization.htm). This non-profit organization was created to support women and aviation; and according to its mission statement,
“The Ninety-Nines is the international organization of women pilots that promotes advancement
of aviation through education, scholarships and of aviation through education, scholarships and
mutual support while honoring our unique history and sharing our passion for flight.”
I recommend that any woman interested in aviation check out this varied and informative web site.
Many of the Ninety-nines were also WASP, but not all of them were. These other pioneer pilots were associated with other venues, such as commercial flights, air racing, stunt flying and just flying for pleasure. Against the prevailing sexism of their era they pushed the boundaries by breaking aviation records, and pursuing their dreams in spite of setbacks.
When I was in South Padre Island, Texas last month I visited the turtle rescue center, Sea Turtle, Inc.. This center was founded in 1977 by Ila Fox Loetscher who fell in love with the sea turtles after moving to the area in the 1960s. She was instrumental in their rescue, and she became a licensed caretaker for injured and sick turtles before founding Sea Turtle Inc.
But her history includes her becoming the first licensed native Iowa woman pilot at age 25, in Iowa. She was a friend of Amelia Earheart and a member of the Ninety-nines. She was inducted into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame in 1991. She became known as The Turtle Lady and was beloved by those who also loved the turtles.
From her Iowa connection you can read about her at http://data.desmoinesregister.com/famous-iowans/ila-loetscher
And here is a link to Sea Turtle Inc., about the “Beloved Turtle Hugger of Texas”. (http://www.turtles.org/turtlelady/ila.htm)
In addition, this site offers even more details about her history: The Turtle Lady Legacy
It was fascinating to me that from a spontaneous stop at a roadside museum in Sweetwater, Texas I was connected to these women, culminating with a visit to Sea Turtle, Inc., which I thought was just an interesting tourist destination to learn about turtle rescue. That’s what I love about traveling; being surprised and educated and totally amazed at some of the connections I encounter.
Note: The first photo is Ila Fox Loetscher in her pilot’s gear. The second photo is a postcard from Sea Turtle, Inc. of a portrait of Ila done in her later years.
Followup: I was incorrect in stating that Amelia Earheart was on a solo flight when she disappeared. She was with her navigator, Fred Noonan, and they both were lost.