|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2007)|
February 14, 1891|
Fort Payne, Alabama
|Died||July 8, 1977
Santa Fe, New Mexico
|Known for||Aviator, stunt and exhibition flying|
|First flight||January 1911|
|Flight license||24 July 1912
Pine Bluff, AR
Katherine Stinson (14 February 1891, in Fort Payne, Alabama – July 8, 1977, in Santa Fe, New Mexico) was an early female flier. She was the fourth woman in the United States to obtain a pilot's certificate, which she earned on 24 July 1912, at the age of 21 while residing in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Initially, she planned to get her certificate and use money she earned from exhibition flying to pay for her music lessons. However, she found she liked flying so much that she gave up her piano career and decided to become an aviator. In January 1911, Stinson went to St. Louis to take flight lessons from Tony Jannus who only allowed her to fly as a passenger. She then took her flying lessons from the well-known aviator Max Lillie, a pilot for the Wright Brothers, who initially refused to teach her because she was female. But she persuaded him to give her a trial lesson and was so good that she flew alone after only four hours of instruction. A year after receiving her certificate, she began exhibition flying. On the exhibition circuit, she was known as the "Flying Schoolgirl". Katherine Stinson tried to tell newspaper reporters she was actually 21, not 16 - although they refused to believe her.
After she received her certificate, Stinson and her family moved to San Antonio, Texas, an area with an ideal climate for flying. There, she and her sister Marjorie began giving flying instruction at her family's aviation school in Texas. On July 18, 1915, Stinson became the first woman to perform a loop, at Cicero Field in Chicago, Illinois, and went on to perform this feat some 500 times without a single accident. She also was one of the first women authorized to carry airmail for the United States. During World War I, Stinson flew a Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" and a Curtiss Stinson-Special (a single seat version of the JN aircraft built to her specifications) for fundraising tours for the American Red Cross. During exhibition flights in Canada, Stinson set a Canadian distance and endurance record, and made the second air mail flight in Canada between Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta in 1918.
Of note is the fact that all of her stunt flying was done in aircraft using the Wright control system which uses two side-mounted levers for pitch and roll, with top mounted controls for throttle and yaw.
The Stinson School closed in 1917, and Katherine became an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Europe. There, she contracted influenza, which turned into tuberculosis in 1920, causing her retirement from aviation. In 1928, she married airman Miguel Antonio Otero, Jr., son of the former territorial governor of New Mexico. Although she could no longer fly, she worked as an architect for many years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She died in 1977 at the age of 86.
Stinson's flying inspired her brothers to form the Stinson Aircraft Company.
- A early Laird biplane looped by Stinson is on display at the Henry Ford Museum.
- A replica of her 1918 Curtiss Stinson-Special is on display at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton.
The second oldest general aviation airport in the United States, Stinson Municipal Airport (KSSF) in San Antonio, Texas, was named in the Stinson family's honor. A middle school in northwest San Antonio, TX, Katherine Stinson Middle School, was named in her honor.
Works featuring Katherine Stinson
- Katherine Stinson: The Flying Schoolgirl by Debra L. Winegarten (Eakin Press, August 2000)
- Flying High: Pioneer Women in American Aviation by Charles R. Mitchell (photographer) and Kirk W. House (Arcadia Publishing, June 2, 2002)
- Before Amelia: Women Pilots in the Early Days of Aviation by Eileen F. Lebow (Potomac Books Inc., August 1, 2002)
- Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reilly, Rosalie M. Shepherd. Women Who Fly.
- Lori Burrup (Winter 2003). "Katherine Stinson Pioneering Aviatrix". AAHS Journal.
- Air Trails: 47. Winter 1971.
- Shiels, Bob (1974). Calgary : a not too solemn look at Calgary's first 100 years. Calgary: The Calgary Herald. p. 146.
- Dan K. Utley, Cynthia J. Beeman. History Ahead: Stories Beyond the Texas Roadside Markers. p. 252.
- Ford Richardson Bryan, Sarah Evans. Missing or empty
- "Katherine Stinson", US Centennial of Flight Commission, retrieved January 6, 2006
- "The Pioneers" links to many bios of Katherine and her sister
- Katherine Stinson walking with Wilbur Wright, the photo is erroneously labeled Harriet Quimby who had no affiliation with the Wright Brothers. Since Wilbur died May 30 1912 this photo was probably taken earlier that year. Katherine soloed in July 1912 two months after Wilbur died. Also Katherine's lookalike sister Marjorie didn't take flight training from the Wright school until 1914.