Best of the Web: Inspirational female pilot stories

Hat tip to the Winged Victory: Women in Aviation Webzine for bringing our attention to these inspiration stories about female pilots:

Heroism of the Spitfire Girls. The Daily Express has an article about the unsung band of female fliers who played an important behind-the-scenes role during the Battle of Britain by helping the overstretched RAF to ferry aircraft around the country. The 164 female Air Transport Auxiliary pilots whose motto was “Anything To Anywhere” suffered terrible losses with the casualty rate being proportionately higher than for male fighter pilots. Last May, Maureen Dunlop, one of the last surviving Spitfire women, died at the age of 91.

Former WASP Pilot (Aged 92) Takes Flight in a Biplane. Like the RAF, the U.S. Army Air Forces also faced a severe pilot shortage with 1,900 women ultimately serving as Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs. Lucile Wise, 92, was one of those pilots and late last year, she donned goggles, a headset and a borrowed leather bomber jacket to go flying in a 1942 Boeing-Stearman painted canary-yellow according to a lengthy profile in the Denver Post. Wise had also taken part in the fight to win WASPs the recognition they deserve that ultimately led Congress to pass a bill in 1977 giving them military status and veterans benefits.

The Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport: Yellowknife. Last year in the second Women of Aviation Worldwide Week competition to see which airport community could give the most women and girls their first flight in a small aircraft, Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, unseated Frederick, Maryland, for the title. Organizer Mireille Goyer tells AVweb in a podcast interview how a local woman bush pilot organized a victory for the town. In fact, there was a waiting list of girls and pilots who wanted to take part in the competition.

High Flying Ghanaian Woman Pilot. The World has profiled Patricia Mawuli who is among the youngest pilots in the west African nation of Ghana. Mawuli transports medical supplies and doctors all around the country plus she is an aircraft engineer who teaches other young women from the Lake Volta region to build and fly ultra-light aircraft.

Afghan Female Pilot Go Solo. The Airforce Times had reported late last year that Lt. Nilofor Rhmani has become the first female pilot in the Afghan air force’s pilot training program to fly solo thanks to the training she received by both US and NATO advisers. That’s no small feat as the PJ Tattler has reported that “quite a few” Afghani women are not tall enough to fly the aircraft currently operated by the country’s air force operates.

Who Will Be the First Female Red Bull Air Race Pilot? The unofficial Red Bull Air Race Webzine recently asked when we will see the first woman Red Bull air race pilot and then it was pointed out that only 118 women hold a sport license in the US capable of competing in such competitions. Nevertheless, the article profiled four possible candidates from Russia and France who could join the team by the 2014 season.

A Female United Flying Octogenarian (UFO). Last Summer, the Richmond Times-Dispatch profiled Sara Parmenter, who lives on a farm in Virginia with her husband and who was set to turn 88 in August, because she is a certified “UFO” or a “United Flying Octogenarian.”

Who Was the First Woman to Fly Around the World Solo? It turns out that a very unassuming housewife and mother of three children from Columbus, Ohio, named Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world in 1964 (she also learned to fly at age 12). Unfortunately, her achievement was largely overshadowed by other events in the 1960s, but Air Facts has put together her story here. Jerrie also turned 86 last year and to her surprise, her admirers planned to honor her with a statue in her hometown. - Gerrie Mock in the Spirit of Columbus

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