Barbara Allen Rainey

Last updated
Barbara Ann Allen (Rainey)
Barbara Allen Rainey.jpg
Rainey as a Lt. Junior Grade
Born(1948-08-20)August 20, 1948
Bethesda, Maryland
DiedJuly 13, 1982(1982-07-13) (aged 33)
Evergreen, Alabama
Place of burial
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States of America
Service/branchFlag of the United States Navy (official).svg  United States Navy
Years of service1973-1982
Rank US Navy O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant commander

Barbara Ann Allen Rainey (August 20, 1948 - July 13, 1982) was one of the first six female pilots in the U.S. armed forces. [1] Rainey received her wings of gold as the first female to be designated a naval aviator in February 1974 [2] and became the first Navy woman to qualify as a jet pilot. [1] She attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. [2] She was killed in an aircraft crash in 1982 while performing her duties as a flight instructor. [3]

Lieutenant commander (United States) United States naval rank

Lieutenant commander (LCDR) is a mid-ranking officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, with the pay grade of O-4 and NATO rank code OF-3. The predecessors of the NOAA Corps, the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps (1917-1965) and the Environmental Science Services Administration Corps (1965-1970), also used the lieutenant commander rank, and the rank is also used in the United States Maritime Service and the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Lieutenant commanders rank above lieutenants and below commanders, and rank is equivalent to a major in the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

Flight instructor person who teaches others to operate aircraft

A flight instructor is a person who teaches others to fly aircraft. Especially Rotor/Helicopter Flight Instructors. Specific privileges granted to holders of a flight instructor qualification vary from country to country, but very generally, a flight instructor serves to enhance or evaluate the knowledge and skill level of an aviator in pursuit of a higher pilot's license, certificate or rating.


Early life and career

Allen was born at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland and was the daughter of a career Naval Officer. She graduated from Lakewood High School in California, [4] where she was an outstanding athlete and a member of the National Honor Society. Consistently on the dean's list at Long Beach City College, California, she later transferred to and graduated from Whittier College in California where she became a member of the Thalian Society. [1] She was commissioned in the United States Navy Reserve in ceremonies at U.S Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in December 1970, and was assigned to the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Virginia. [2] She later served on the staff of the Supreme Allied Command, Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. [5]

Bethesda, Maryland Census-designated place in Maryland, United States

Bethesda is an unincorporated, census-designated place in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, located just northwest of the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House, which in turn took its name from Jerusalem's Pool of Bethesda. In Aramaic, beth ḥesda means "House of Mercy" and in Hebrew, beit ḥesed means "House of Kindness". The National Institutes of Health main campus and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are in Bethesda, as are a number of corporate and government headquarters.

Lakewood High School (California) school located in the southern California city of Lakewood

Lakewood High School is a public secondary school located in the southern California city of Lakewood. Founded in 1957, it is part of the Long Beach Unified School District. Lakewood is the architectural twin of nearby Millikan High School, which opened in 1956.

National Honor Society nationwide organization in the United States

The National Honor Society (NHS) is a nationwide organization for high school students in the United States and outlying territories, which consists of many chapters in high schools. Selection is based on four criteria: scholarship, leadership, service, and character. The National Honor Society requires some sort of service to the community, school, or other organizations. The time spent working on these projects contributes towards the monthly service hour requirement. The National Honor Society was founded in 1921 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The Alpha chapter of NHS was founded at Fifth Avenue High School by Principal Edward S. Rynearson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

First female naval aviator

In early 1973, the Secretary of the Navy John W. Warner announced a test program to train female Naval Aviators. [5] Seeking a greater challenge and wanting to follow in the footsteps of her U.S. Marine Corps aviator brother, Bill, Allen applied to the program and was accepted into the U.S. Naval Flight Training School. [2]

United States Naval Aviator

A Naval Aviator is a commissioned officer or warrant officer qualified as a pilot in the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps or United States Coast Guard.

United States Marine Corps Amphibious warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines or U.S. Marines, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting expeditionary and amphibious operations with the United States Navy as well as the Army and Air Force. The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the four armed service branches in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.

Allen and seven other women reported for flight training on March 2, 1973 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. She was the first of her class to earn her Wings of Gold [5] and was designated the first female naval aviator in history in ceremonies at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, on February 22, 1974. She was assigned to fly C-1s in Alameda, California with a transport squadron and became the first jet qualified woman in the U.S. Navy flying the T-39. [1]

Naval Air Station Pensacola airport

Naval Air Station Pensacola or NAS Pensacola, "The Cradle of Naval Aviation", is a United States Navy base located next to Warrington, Florida, a community southwest of the Pensacola city limits. It is best known as the initial primary training base for all U.S.Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers pursuing designation as Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers, the advanced training base for most Naval Flight Officers, and as the home base for the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the precision-flying team known as the Blue Angels.

Florida State of the United States of America

Florida is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.

Naval Air Station Corpus Christi

Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, is a United States Navy naval air base located six miles (10 km) southeast of the central business district (CBD) of Corpus Christi, in Nueces County, Texas.

Allen married John C. Rainey, whom she had met during her flight training. While pregnant with her first daughter, she transferred to the Naval Reserve in November 1977. She remained active in the Naval Reserves and while pregnant with her second daughter, qualified to fly the R6D (DC-6). [2]

United States Navy Reserve Reserve Component (RC) of the United States Navy

The United States Navy Reserve (USNR), known as the United States Naval Reserve from 1915 to 2005, is the Reserve Component (RC) of the United States Navy. Members of the Navy Reserve, called reservists, are enrolled in the Selected Reserve (SELRES), the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), the Full Time Support (FTS), or the Retired Reserve program.

In 1981, with the Navy experiencing a shortage of flight instructors, she was accepted for recall to active duty as a flight instructor and was assigned to Training Squadron Three (VT-3) based at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, flying the T-34C Mentor. [2] On July 13, 1982, Allen, along with her trainee Ensign Donald Bruce Knowlton, were practicing touch-and-go landings at Middleton Field near Evergreen, Alabama, when the aircraft banked sharply, lost altitude, and crashed. Allen and Knowlton were both killed in the crash. [6]

Naval Air Station Whiting Field human settlement in Florida, United States of America

Naval Air Station Whiting Field is a United States Navy base located near Milton, Florida, with some outlying fields near Navarre, Florida, in south and central Santa Rosa County, and is one of the Navy's two primary pilot training bases. NAS Whiting Field provides training for U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force student pilots, as well as those of several allied nations. NAS Whiting Field is home to Training Air Wing Five.

Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank acquired the name. This rank has generally been replaced in army ranks by second lieutenant. Ensigns were generally the lowest ranking commissioned officer, except where the rank of subaltern existed. In contrast, the Arab rank of ensign, لواء, liwa', derives from the command of units with an ensign, not the carrier of such a unit's ensign, and is today the equivalent of a major general.

Middleton Field airport in Alabama, United States of America

Middleton Field is a public-use airport located 5 nautical miles west of the central business district of Evergreen, a city in Conecuh County, Alabama, United States. According to the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2009–2013, it is categorized as a general aviation facility. Although the airport is owned by the City of Evergreen, it is primarily used for flight training by the U.S. Navy.

Uncertainty over the cause of the crash led the pilots' surviving spouses to file a product liability suit against Beech Aircraft Corporation, portions of which would eventually be heard by the United States Supreme Court in Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey. [7]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Ebbert, Jean and Marie-Beth Hall (1999). Crossed Currents: Navy Women from WWI to Tailhook [Revised]. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's. ISBN   978-1-57488-193-6.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Naughton, Russell (editor). "Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Ann Allen (Rainey) (1948-1982)". Aviation Pioneers : An Anthology. Hargrave. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-16.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. "First Woman Designated Naval Aviator Dies in Plane Crash" (PDF). Naval Aviation News. October 1982. p. 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-13.
  4. "Rainey, Barbara Allen (1948–1982)". Women in World History. January 1, 2002. Archived from the original on March 23, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2014 via HighBeam Research.
  5. 1 2 3 Love, JOC Bill W. "Women in the Training Command" (PDF). U.S. Navy. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  6. "Barbara Allen Rainey". Arlington National Cemetery. ANC Website. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  7. 'Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey, 488 US 153' Supreme Court of United States, 1988. Retrieved on 27 November 2012.

Further reading