Katherine Stinson

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Katherine Stinson
Lady standing jauntily in front of an aircraft}
Born (1891-02-14)February 14, 1891
Fort Payne, Alabama
Died July 8, 1977(1977-07-08) (aged 86)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nationality American
Relatives Marjorie Stinson
Aviation career
Known for Aviator, stunt and exhibition flying
First flight January 1911
Flight license 24 July 1912
Pine Bluff, AR
Katherine Stinson and her Curtiss aeroplane.
Marjorie Stinson, (Katherine's sister), "only woman to whom a pilot's license has been granted by Army & Navy Committee of Aeronautics", in WWI

Katherine Stinson (14 February 1891, in Fort Payne, Alabama – July 8, 1977, in Santa Fe, New Mexico) was an early female flier.

Biography[edit]

She was born on Valentine's Day, 14 February 1891 in Fort Payne, Alabama.

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.[1] 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.[2] 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)[3] 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.[4]

On December 11, 1917, Katherine Stinson flew 606 miles from San Diego to San Francisco, setting a new American non-stop distance record.

The Stinson School closed in 1917, and Katherine became an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Europe.

In 1918 she flew non-stop from Chicago to Binghamton, New York.[5]

In Europe 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.[6]

Legacy[edit]

Stinson's flying inspired her brothers to form the Stinson Aircraft Company. 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 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[edit]

  • 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)
  1. ^ Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reilly, Rosalie M. Shepherd. Women Who Fly. 
  2. ^ Lori Burrup (Winter 2003). "Katherine Stinson Pioneering Aviatrix". AAHS Journal. 
  3. ^ Air Trails: 47. Winter 1971. 
  4. ^ Shiels, Bob (1974). Calgary : a not too solemn look at Calgary's first 100 years. Calgary: The Calgary Herald. p. 146. 
  5. ^ "Travels 783 Miles Without a Stop on Her Way from Chicago to New York. Lack of Gas Forces Her to Make Descent, Which Damages Machine. Will Complete Trip Today. Left Chicago at 7:37 A.M.". New York Times. May 24, 1918. Retrieved 2014-02-12. "Katherine Stinson, who left Chicago this morning with Government mail for New York, landed two miles north of this city at 6:50 this evening." 
  6. ^ Dan K. Utley, Cynthia J. Beeman. History Ahead: Stories Beyond the Texas Roadside Markers. p. 252. 
  7. ^ Ford Richardson Bryan, Sarah Evans.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]