Saturday, 31 May 2014

Women in flight

Joyce Spring
   Our local library book club enjoyed listening to Joyce Spring talk about the female pilots that she has researched while writing her non-fiction books: "Daring Lady Flyers: Canadian Women in the Early Years of Aviation", and "The Sky's the Limit: Canadian Women Bush Pilots".  Joyce is working on the final book of the trilogy and the book club was cheering her on to finish.  They even envisioned a documentary of Canadian women in Flight.

  I really enjoyed reading about women such as Olive Stark. In 1912, she was the first woman airplane passenger in Canada.  She sat beside her husband on the lower wing of his 'Curtiss'. The plane was a mass of wire and bamboo.  Her feet were dangling and she only had the wire rigging to hang onto.

Madge Graham

Madge Graham, in 1919, navigated for her husband as they flew at tree-top level from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to Grand’Mère, Quebec.  The noise from the engine made conversation impossible so Madge rigged up a miniature clothes-line to send messages. The 800 mile trip took five days and nine hours to complete with crowds greeting them at every stop.  But not everyone was impressed.  Admiral Byrd (the first man to fly the Pole) declared, "Flying seaplanes over land is suicide and taking a woman along is criminal."

  Certainly the flights were experimental and dangerous, but women continued their interest in flight and soon were taking off on their own. And now many women are qualified commercial pilots as well as bush pilots and military pilots.  Even the Snowbirds have a female wing commander.

  Joyce gave us an interesting look at women's role in aviation, but also the history of flight in Canada.  We were fascinated!

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