Saturday, September 05, 2009

Aviatrix

I had first encountered Beryl Markham in that remarkable book about Isak Dinesen by Judith Thurman. In it, she recounts the final flight of Denys and of how Beryl's flight instructor at the time begged her to not fly with him, having a rotten feeling about the whole thing. She wasn't the type to give up a jaunt but in this case she did and saved her own life.

It was near this date in 1936, however, that she made her own amazing flight. "Markham had become the first woman to cross the Atlantic east-to-west solo, and the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop. She was celebrated as an aviation pioneer."

One hell of a thing...she was quite against type for the day. She notes in her own book that she was practically raised wild by the natives in BEA. I am confident she drew on the strength of those days in that long, lonely flight...and no doubt missed that African heat.

An amazing journey...

4 comments:

Brigid said...

She was an incredible woman. A warrior in every way.

Ed Rasimus said...

The women of that period who got involved in flying were almost uniformly remarkable. They were the living proof when WW II erupted that women could deliver the thousands of airplanes rolling off the production lines and release the men to fight the war.

Today, their descendents are the "Fighter Chicks" and airline pilots that no longer raise any eyebrows.

LauraB said...

...and graced by my two favorites...

Blessed, indeed. And how I envy you each those hours...

Ed Rasimus said...

When I first started to take flying lessons, I went to Palwaukee Airport in Wheeling IL, about a twenty minute drive from my home on the NW side of Chicago.

I took lessons at Sally's Flying School. She had been a pioneer and along with her husband ran the school with ten J-3 cubs, two PA-22 Colts and a Cessna 172.

She had been airmail, WASP, open cockpit barnstormer and wore the tanned, wrinkled face of years of squinting into the sun like a medal of honor.

A great lady.