I don't know about you but I LOVE vintage aviation, especially aviatrixes. When you are 5ft 2in and 103lbs and you used to be a long haul truck driver (like me) you tend to gravitate towards strong, independent women for role models or at least I do. One of my goals is to someday do an aviatrix style photo shoot - I have a couple of entire vintage aviator/aviatrix style outfits complete with head gear and goggles, so I am ready to go just need to find the right photographer. Enough about me...I am sure you are really here to find out more about these interesting high flying women of yesteryear.
First is Amelia Earhart and I am sure we are all familiar with Amelia but just in case here is a little bit of info about this woman who was nothing short of amazing:
When Amelia was a child she was very much a tomboy, she continually defied conventional feminine behavior and did all the things a boy would do. She also kept a scrap book of news paper clippings of successful women in predominantly male oriented fields which included film, production, direction, law, management and many others. Earhart took her first flying lesson in 1921 and was hooked ever since. Six months later she saved enough money to buy her own plane. The plane was bright yellow and she named it Canary.
In 1928 Earhart was the first woman to fly the Atlantic, starting off in Newfoundland and ending up in Wales, 21 hours later. The landmark flight made headlines world wide because three other women had attempted to do this flight but all had perished except Earhart. From that moment on her life was devoted to flying until in 1937 when she was almost 40, she was attempting to be the first woman to fly around the world when she was never seen or heard from ever again.
The next aviatrix who is not nearly as well know but is just as strong and amazing as Amelia is Amy Johnson. Amy Johnson was born in Hull England from a family of modest fishermen. She had always been fiercely independent and became interested in flying when she was 25 years old. Amy worked as a secretary and spent all of her money on flying lessens. She was also very mechanically inclined and ended up apprenticing with an airplane mechanic and became the first British woman who was granted an aircraft ground engineers license, from the British Air Ministry.
In 1930 Johnson became the first women to fly solo from England to Australia. Johnson with help of her father managed to scrape together a small amount to purchase the gypsy moth plane which she named Jason. Amy Johnson's life was never the same again, she inspired songs, fashion and drew the admiration from her public with her direct manor of speaking. Amy eventually moved to the US and became great friends with Amelia Earhart. Amy Johnson died in 1941 in a crash while ferrying planes for the RAE.
The last brave and courageous aviatrix is Beryl Markham, a pioneer aviator who was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from London to North America. Born in 1902 in Leicester England, Beryl was three years old when her and her family moved to Kenya where she spent most of her life. She became well known for her career as a bush pilot.
In 1939 Markham move to the US and for some time there were plans to make a movie about her famous flight across the Atlantic however the movie was never made. Instead she received an offer to write about her experiences. Her book, West with the Night was published in 1942 and was a success. After Ernest Hemingway read her book he said: "She can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers". Markham's book appeared on 13 best sellers lists after it was published, West with the Night tells of the story of Markham's childhood in Kenya, her unconventional career as a bush pilot and her pioneering transatlantic flight. During Markham's final years she became a well known personality once again. West with the Night was republished, it became a best seller and she was the subject of a television documentary. Beryl Markham died in 1986 in Kenya at the age of 84.