Louise Thaden

Last updated
Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden
Louise thaden 2b.jpg
Thaden, circa 1930s
Born(1905-11-12)November 12, 1905
DiedNovember 9, 1979(1979-11-09) (aged 73)
Occupation Aviator
Spouse(s)Herbert von Thaden
ChildrenWilliam von Thaden
Patricia Thaden Webb

Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden (November 12, 1905 – November 9, 1979) was an American aviation pioneer, holder of numerous aviation records, and the first woman to win the Bendix trophy, alongside Blanche Noyes. [1] She was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society's Hall of Fame in 1980. [2]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Arkansas Aviation Historical Society is a non-profit organization promoting aviation. It created the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1980, and recently created college scholarships in hopes of encouraging young people to pursue aviation careers. The Aviation Hall of Fame honors individuals who played a great role in aviation and aerospace history on the national or Arkansas scene. Records are hosted by Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute, Central Arkansas Library System, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Contents

Birth and education

Louise McPhetridge was born in Bentonville, Arkansas and attended Bentonville public schools. McPhetridge attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas from 1921 to 1926 and studied as a journalism, physical education, and pre-medical major.

Bentonville, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Bentonville is the ninth-largest city in Arkansas, United States and the county seat of Benton County. The city is centrally located in the county with Rogers adjacent to the east. The city is the birthplace and world headquarters of Walmart, the world's largest retailer. It is one of the four main cities in the four-county Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is ranked 109th in terms of population in the United States with 463,204 residents in 2010, according to the United States Census Bureau. The city itself had a population of 35,301 at the 2010 Census, with an estimated population of 49,298 in 2017.

University of Arkansas Public research university in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

The University of Arkansas is a public land-grant, research university in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and the largest, best-known university in the state. Founded as Arkansas Industrial University in 1871, its present name was adopted in 1899 and classes were first held on January 22, 1872. It is noted for its strong architecture, agriculture, business, communication disorders, creative writing, history, law, and Middle Eastern studies programs.

Fayetteville, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Fayetteville is the third-largest city in Arkansas and county seat of Washington County. The city is centrally located within the county and has been home of the University of Arkansas since the institution's founding in 1871. Fayetteville is on the outskirts of the Boston Mountains, deep within the Ozarks. Known as Washington until 1829, the city was named after Fayetteville, Tennessee, from which many of the settlers had come. It was incorporated on November 3, 1836 and was rechartered in 1867. The four-county Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked 105th in terms of population in the United States with 463,204 in 2010 according to the United States Census Bureau. The city had a population of 73,580 at the 2010 Census.

Aviation

In 1926, McPhetridge was working for the J.H.J. Turner Coal Co. where one of her main customers was the Travel Air Corporation in Wichita, Kansas, owned by Walter Beech. Beech liked McPhetridge and offered her a job as a sales representative in San Francisco, California, which she accepted. Her salary included free pilot's lessons, and she earned her pilot's certificate in 1928. She was the first female pilot to be licensed by the state of Ohio.

Wichita, Kansas City and county seat in Kansas, United States

Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas and the county seat of Sedgwick County. As of 2017, the estimated population of the city was 390,591. Wichita is the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 644,610 in 2015.

Walter Beech American pioneer aviator and co-founder of Beech Aircraft Company

Walter Herschel Beech was an American aviator and aviation entrepreneur who co-founded the Beech Aircraft Company in 1932 with his wife, Olive Ann Beech, and a team of three others.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

Marriage

McPhetridge met Herbert von Thaden, who was a United States Army Signal Corps pilot and engineer who worked on developing the first American all-metal aircraft, the Thaden T-2. McPhetridge and von Thaden were married in San Francisco on June 19, 1928. [3] By 1929, Louise Thaden had become only the fourth woman to hold a transport pilot rating.

Thaden T-2

The Thaden T-2 was a 1920s American four-seat all-metal cabin monoplane built by the Thaden Metal Aircraft Company of San Francisco, California.

Records

Thaden rapidly became a major figure in the aviation world and set many world performance records and won many major flying events. In 1929, she became the first pilot to hold the women's altitude, endurance and speed records in light planes simultaneously. Thaden set the women's altitude record in December 1928 with a mark of 20,260 feet. In March 1929, she set the women's endurance record with a flight of 22 hours, 3 minutes, 12 seconds.

Women were barred from air racing from 1930 to 1935, due to sexism. [4]

Women's Air Derby

Thaden was a friend and rival of pioneer aviators Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, Opal Kunz, and Blanche Noyes. Thaden defeated her colleagues in the first Women's Air Derby, also known as the Powder Puff Derby, in 1929. The Air Derby was a transcontinental race from Santa Monica, California to Cleveland, Ohio, which was the site of the National Air Races that year. It took place from August 13–20, 1929. Twenty women were entered in the race. Marvel Crosson was killed. Earhart damaged her aircraft at Yuma, Arizona, Barnes became lost and flew into Mexico and damaged her plane attempting to get back on course, and Noyes suffered an in-flight fire over Texas. [5]

Amelia Earhart American aviation pioneer and author

Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the United States Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. In 1935, Earhart became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University as an advisor to aeronautical engineering and a career counselor to women students. She was also a member of the National Woman's Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Pancho Barnes American aviator

Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes was a pioneer aviator, the founder of the first movie stunt pilots' union. In 1930, she broke Amelia Earhart's air speed record. Barnes raced in the Women's Air Derby and was a member of the Ninety-Nines. In later years, she was known as the owner of the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a bar and restaurant in the Mojave Desert, Southern California, catering to the legendary test pilots and aviators who worked nearby.

Opal Kunz Aviator, feminist

Opal Kunz was an early American aviator, the chief organizer of the Betsy Ross Air Corps, and a charter member of the Ninety-Nines organization of women pilots. In 1930, she became the first woman pilot to race with men in an open competition. She made many public appearances to urge more women to take up flying.

Middle career

In 1930, Thaden went to work as the public relations director of Pittsburgh Aviation Industries (which had recently purchased her husband's Thaden Metal Aircraft Company) and became the director of the Women's Division of the Penn School of Aeronautics. That same year, Thaden and Earhart participated in the founding of an international organization for women pilots called the Ninety-Nines. Thaden turned down the presidency of the organization but served as the treasurer and vice-president. The Ninety-Nine organization still exists. In 1991, astronaut Eileen Collins carried Thaden's flying helmet into space on the space shuttle to honor her achievements and the early women pioneers of flight. In 1935, Phoebe Omlie, another pioneer female aviator, asked Thaden to become a field representative for the National Air Marking Program.

1936 Bendix Trophy Race

In 1936, Thaden won the Bendix Trophy Race in the first year women were allowed access to compete against men. She set a new world record of 14 hours, 55 minutes from New York City to Los Angeles, California. In her astonishing victory, she flew a Beech C17R Staggerwing biplane and defeated twin-engine planes specifically designed for racing. Laura Ingalls, another aviator, came in second by 45 minutes flying a Lockheed Orion. First prize was $4,500, and she also won the $2,500 prize for a woman finishing. Time magazine wrote on September 14, 1936:

To Pilots Thaden & Noyes the $7,000 prize money was far less gratifying than the pleasure of beating the men. Among the first ten U.S. women to earn transport licenses, they have for years been front-line fighters in aviation's "battle of the sexes." A fuzzy-haired blonde of 30, Mrs. Thaden has been flying since 1927, has held the women's speed, altitude and endurance records, is the mother of a 6-year-old son. She and Flyer Noyes both work regularly as air-marking pilots for the Department of Commerce. Short, brunette Mrs. Noyes is better known as the only pilot ever to fly John D. Rockefeller Sr. In the National Air Races, men contestants have always patronized women, in 1934 ousted them altogether. Smilingly observed Pilots Thaden and Noyes last week when they found they had won one of the two most important events of the Races: "Well, that's a surprise! We expected to be the cow's tail."

For her achievements Thaden won aviation's highest honor given to women, the Harmon Trophy.

Aviation career

Thaden teamed up with Frances Marsalis and set another endurance record by flying a Curtiss Thrush biplane over Long Island, New York for 196 hours. The pair made seventy-eight air-to-air refueling maneuvers. Food and water were lowered to the two by means of a rope from another aircraft. The event gained national attention and the pair made a series of live radio broadcasts from the aircraft.

In 1937, she became the National Secretary of the National Aeronautics Association. Just prior to her retirement, she returned to Beech Aircraft Corporation as a factory representative and demonstration pilot.

Retirement

Thaden retired from competition in 1938. She worked for a time with the Bureau of Air Commerce to promote the creation of airfields. She also wrote her memoirs, High, Wide and Frightened soon after her retirement. In addition to her memoirs, she wrote numerous newspaper and magazine articles dealing with aviation issues. Thaden said women were "innately better pilots than men." The final chapter of her autobiography, "Noble Experiment," omitted from the 1973 and 2004 reissues of the book, is a short story giving a dystopian vision of the use of women in combat. It gains particular pertinence in its implicit criticism of the strategic bombing theories of Giulio Douhet and William ("Billy") Mitchell. [6]

The Arkansas Aviation Historical Society selected Thaden in 1980 as one of five initial inductees in the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame.

Death

Thaden died of a heart attack at High Point, North Carolina on November 9, 1979.

Legacy

Related Research Articles

Jacqueline Cochran American aviator and businesswoman

Jacqueline Cochran was an American pilot and the first woman to break the sound barrier on 18 May 1953. She was a pioneer in the field of aviation and one of the most prominent racing pilots of her generation. She was an important contributor to the formation of the wartime Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1932:

Ninety-Nines

The Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots, also known as The 99s, is an international organization that provides networking, mentoring, and flight scholarship opportunities to recreational and professional female pilots. As of 2018, there are 155 Ninety-Nines chapters across the globe, including a 'virtual' chapter, Ambassador 99s, which meets online for those who are too busy or mobile to be in one region for long.

Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing family of utility transport aircraft

The Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing is an American biplane with an atypical negative wing stagger. It first flew in 1932.

National Air Races

The National Air Races are a series of pylon and cross-country races that took place in the United States since 1920. The science of aviation, and the speed and reliability of aircraft and engines grew rapidly during this period; the National Air Races were both a proving ground and showcase for this.

Blanche Noyes American aviator

Blanche Noyes was an American pioneering female aviator who was among the first ten women to receive a transport pilot's license. In 1929, she became Ohio's first licensed female pilot.

Bendix Trophy award

The Bendix Trophy is a U.S. aeronautical racing trophy. The transcontinental, point-to-point race, sponsored by industrialist Vincent Bendix founder of Bendix Corporation, began in 1931 as part of the National Air Races. Initial prize money for the winners was $15,000. The last Bendix Trophy Race was flown in 1962.

Howard DGA-6

The Howard DGA-6 was a pioneer racing plane, nicknamed Mister Mulligan. It was the only airplane ever designed for the specific purpose of winning the Bendix Trophy. The plane was designed and developed by Ben Howard and Gordon Israel, who later became an engineer for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation. Mister Mulligan was designed to fly the entire length of the race nonstop and at high altitude. Neither had ever been done before. Mister Mulligan won the trophy, and thus changed the way in which long distance airplanes were designed.

Fay Gillis Wells American aviator

Fay Gillis Wells was an American pioneer aviator, globe-trotting journalist and a broadcaster.

Helen Richey American aviator

Helen Richey (1909–1947) was a pioneering female aviator and the first woman to be hired as a pilot by a commercial airline in the United States.

Olive Ann Beech American businesswoman

Olive Ann Beech was an American aerospace businesswoman who was the co-founder, president, and chairwoman of the Beech Aircraft Corporation. She earned more awards, honorary appointments, and special citations than any other woman in aviation history, and was often referred to as the “First Lady of Aviation”.

Barbara Allen Rainey United States Navy officer

Barbara Ann Allen Rainey was one of the first six female pilots in the U.S. armed forces. Rainey received her wings of gold as the first female to be designated a naval aviator in February 1974 and became the first Navy woman to qualify as a jet pilot. She attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. She was killed in an aircraft crash in 1982 while performing her duties as a flight instructor.

Phoebe Omlie American aviation pioneer

Phoebe Jane Fairgrave Omlie was an American aviation pioneer, particularly noted for her accomplishments as an early female aviator. Omlie was the first woman to receive an airplane mechanic's license, the first licensed female transport pilot, and the first woman to be appointed to a federal position in the aviation field.

Bobbi Trout American aviator

Evelyn "Bobbi" Trout was an early American aviator, notable for her pioneering flying activities. Trout began her aviation career at the age of 16; however, her first solo flight and solo certificate was only given on April 30, 1928. In the spring of 1928, Trout’s mother bought her an International K-6 biplane. Trout received her pilot's identification card from the United States Department of Commerce on September 1, 1928. She was the second woman to break the non-refueling endurance record for women when she flew 12 hours straight from California in 1929. The record was previously held by Viola Gentry and was the first record where Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) rules of the endurance record were revised stating that endurance records had to be broken by a full hour. Trout also participated in the Women's Air Derby of 1929, which was dubbed the Powder Puff Derby. In 2001, she was recognized as the only living participant in the first Women's Air Derby of 1929. Evelyn got her nickname “Bobbi” when she copied the hairstyle of 1928 actress Irene Castle which was a short “Bob” haircut.

Viola Gentry was an American aviator, best known for setting the first non-refueling endurance record for women.

Bentonville Municipal Airport airport in Arkansas

Bentonville Municipal Airport is a city-owned, public-use airport located two nautical miles (3.7 km) south of the central business district of Bentonville, a city in Benton County, Arkansas, United States. It is also known as Louise M. Thaden Field or Louise Thaden Field, a name it was given in 1951 to honor Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905–1979), an aviation pioneer from Bentonville.

The Women's Air Derby was the first official women-only air race in the United States, taking place during the 1929 National Air Races. Humorist Will Rogers referred to it as the Powder Puff Derby, the name by which the race is most commonly known. Nineteen pilots took off from Santa Monica, California on August 18, 1929. Marvel Crosson died, in a crash apparently caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, but fifteen made it to Cleveland, Ohio, nine days later.

Alma Arlene Davis was an American aviator and air racer who was the first private pilot to receive an instrument rating and the first to fly a private plane across the North and South Atlantic oceans in a single trip.

References

  1. Corn, Joseph. "Making Flying "Thinkable": Women Pilots and the Selling of Aviation, 1927-1940". The Johns Hopkins University Press. JSTOR   2712272.Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. "Louise McPhetridge Thaden". Arkansas Aviation Historical Society. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  3. Jeannie M. Whayne (2000). Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives. University of Arkansas Press. pp. 286–. ISBN   978-1-55728-587-4.
  4. "Terry Von Thaden – 2004 Convention" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 August 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  5. http://aerofiles.com/powderpuff.html
  6. Erisman, Fred (December 2014). "Louise Thaden's 'Noble Experiment': An American Aviation Dystopia". Journal of American Culture 37:4.
  7. Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN   978-1-57864-397-4.