The Female Fliers
By Niki Turner
It was my privilege to take my grandson to his first big-screen movie at the theater to see "Planes."
Small airplanes are a big part of my immediate family history. Both my parents had their pilot's licenses and flew small, single-engine planes. According to them (and pictures) I was flying through the sky at the tender age of six weeks old. One of my earliest memories is that of reading the instructions on the emergency locator beacon in the backseat of our small plane while we bounced through mountain turbulence on our way to somewhere for lunch. We never needed that beacon, praise God, but it contributed a great deal to my adult apprehension of air travel.
Anyway... "Planes" is about air racing, and one of the friends I met at the theater shared that her grandmother was one of those early racing pilots, which triggered a recollection of my mother sharing something about being asked to join The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women's pilots.
|Lillian Todd, Inventor|
Just three years later, Lillian "Lily" Todd, a self-taught inventor, was busy designing an airplane of her own.
|Blanche Stuart Scott|
In 1910, Rochester, NY, native Blanche Stuart Scott became, purportedly, the first American woman to fly a plane at a public event. She eventually became a stunt pilot and a test pilot for Glenn Martin (of Lockheed-Martin fame).
My point? There is a lot of history out there that we've scarcely scratched the surface of in modern fiction, and a lot of potential heroes and heroines we might not have considered! When my friend told me about her grandmother, I was surprised. Not only did I not know there were female aviators who raced planes "back in the day," I'd never considered how close to home I might find a unique story idea!
Niki Turner is a writer, former pastor's wife, mother of four, and grandmother of two and a half. She has thus far been unsuccessful at coming up with catchy taglines for her writing, her purpose in life, or what she hopes to achieve in the future. Suggestions are welcome.