View Full Version : Tuesday Trivia: Woman Aviator

Star lover
March 13th, 2018, 07:03 AM
Known as the Flying Schoolgirl, Katherine Stinson became just the fourth woman in the U.S. to earn her pilot’s license on July 24, 1912.


Born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1891 in Fort Payne, Alabama, America’s sweetheart (look at that face!) aviatrix learned to fly at Cicero Field in Chicago at Max Lillie’s Flying School, where on July 18, 1915 she became the first female pilot in the world to perform a loop-the-loop.

For Stinson, the plan was to earn her pilot’s license, perform stunt flying and use the earned money to pay for her music lessons. She liked flying too much and put her piano plans on hold to become one of the more daring pilots on the planet.

Now… being a woman, no one wanted to let her train to be a flyer… but after a bit of coaxing with Max Lillie, a pilot used by the Wright Brothers to demo their planes, she was able to get a lesson, and after a mere four hours, she was soloing. She performed death-defying multiple loops in a plane she had built herself, and later added a wing-over-wing twist to the maneuver, dubbing it the “dippy twist loop.”


In 1913 Katherine and her mother created Stinson Aviation Company to rent and sell airplanes – though that closed up shop by 1917. Katherine’s younger sister, Marjorie Stinson, was employed by her sister’s flying school as their chief instructor. Katherine also taught her brother Eddie to fly. Eddie Anderson Stinson Jr. was considered the world’s most-experienced pilot in flight hours, with over 16,000 hours logged.

In 1916, with the war in Europe raging, the Royal Canadian Flying Corps began sending their cadets to the Stinson School for training. Stinson became known as “The Flying Schoolmarm” and her students as “The Texas Escadrille.” The Escadrille was a group of pilots who would fly for France during WWI.

On the exhibition flying circuit, newspapers pegged Katherine with the Flying Schoolgirl moniker, despite the fact that she was 21-years-old. The newspapers liked the angle that she looked 16.

She became one of the first officially authorized female pilots to fly airmail for the U.S.

During WWI, Stinson flew a special single-seat Jenny built to her specifications, using both to raise funds for the American Red Cross.

During that time of exhibition flying, Stinson made all sorts of record flights… setting a distance and endurance flight in Canada, flying 175 miles.

She also set a new American distance record on December 11, 1917, when she flew 606 miles between San Diego and San Francisco, breaking a record previously held by Ruth Law.

In 1917, Katherine toured the Orient, and was the first woman to fly in Japan or China.

Stinson was asked back to Edmonton in 1917 to demonstrate her skill at the summer exhibition. Stinson exhibited many of the aerial maneuvers being used in “dogfights” over Europe at the time, as well as smoke writing. The grand finale consisted of dropping a dummy bomb on an “enemy trench” prepared for the show.

In 1918 Katherine Stinson announced she would return to the Edmonton fair, and while in Calgary she was appointed an official mail carrier and handed a sack of first class mail stamped “Aeroplane Mail Service, July 9, 1918“. Stinson flew over the Edmonton Exhibition grounds at about eight o’clock, landing in front of the grandstand on the infield.

This was the first official airmail flight in Western Canada, second in Canada only to a Montreal-Toronto run completed two weeks earlier by Captain Brian Peck.


March 13th, 2018, 10:48 AM