Take time this month to learn more about women aviators

  • Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 12:01 a.m.

SALISBURY — The history of aviation is alive and well in North Carolina, with license plates boasting “First in Flight” to commemorate that fateful day when Wilbur and Orville Wright took to the air. Many pilots have followed as they attempted to be the first at something in flight.

Charles Lindbergh was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping, and of course Amelia Earhart was the first woman to do the same. There are many others who helped develop the history of aviation by daring to dream and taking chances. Women, such as Earhart, dreamed of flying just as much as men, but in the ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, a woman’s place was seen as in the kitchen and dreams of flight were not possible, but a few women set out to prove the critics wrong.


In 1921, “Brave Bessie” Coleman became the first licensed black aviator in the world. She not only dreamed about flying, but was so determined to learn she went to France where she was able to become a pilot.

The picture book about Coleman, “Nobody Owns the Sky” by Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, poetically follows Coleman’s dream and determination of becoming a pilot. Coleman flew in air shows and influenced young girls who also wanted to fly, who saw not only a black pilot, but a female one, as well.

Ruth Elder, a Hollywood actress and pilot, decided after Charles Lindbergh successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean that she was going to be the first woman to do so, thereby proving everyone wrong about a woman in the cockpit. “Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart,” by Julie Cummins, follows her 1927 journey and the spectacular crash that ended her flight, but paved the way for future generations of female flyers.

One of these pilots was Earhart, the most famous female pilot in American history, who succeeded where Elder failed with a solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932. Learn more about Earhart and her famous flights in “Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator,” by Shelley Tanaka.

During World War II, many female pilots were recognized and accepted, but were not allowed to fight in combat. “Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee,” by Marissa Moss, tells the story of Maggie Gee, a Chinese-American who joined the WASP (Woman Airforce Service Pilots) and help trained fighter pilots during the war. WASP was disbanded in 1944 and it took another 30 years before females were allowed to fly a U.S. military plane again.

The dreams of female flyers were still alive in 1994 when 12-year-old Vicki Van Meter became the youngest person to fly across the Atlantic ocean. Since her flight, federal regulations have been changed to stop student pilots from attempting to break records, leaving many of the records set by Vicki Van Meter to never be broken.

See what it was like to be such a young pilot with all of the fanfare and media coverage in her own words in “Taking Flight: My story.”

Early pilots, both male and female, all had one thing in common — they dared to dream. In honor of National Aviation Month, let’s remember these dreamers and the strides they made to make their dreams come true as they flew into the history books. Check out these books on female pilots and their male counterparts at Rowan Public Library.

Book Bites Club: South (only), Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., “Into the Wild” by John Krakauer. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.

Teen program: All 5:30-7 p.m. Free monthly programs for middle and high school students. Holiday crafts for teens. Create custom gifts for family and friends. Questions? Call 704-216-8234. East, Monday; headquarters, Tuesday.

Story and dance: Partnering with members of the Salisbury Symphony, Rowan Public Library will present a special story and ballet program, complete with musical excerpts and sample performances with the ballerinas from the Piedmont Dance Theater.

This program will be held in the Stanback Auditorium of Rowan Public Library (Salisbury) on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 6:30 p.m.

There will be time to get up close and meet the ballet dancers after the program. Children of all ages are welcome. Call 704-216-8240 for more details.

November library closings: Nov. 27, close at 1 p.m.; Nov. 28-29, closed for Thanksgiving. Regular hours resume Saturday, Nov. 30.

Fall Story Time: Through Nov. 29. For more information call 704-216-8234.

Baby Time — 6- to 23-month-olds and their parents. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time — 18 to 35 months old with a parent. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Monday, 11 a.m.

Tiny Tumblers — 6 to 35 months old with a parent or caregiver. South, Tuesdays or Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschool Time — 3- to 5-year-olds. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Tuesdays, 1:30 p.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Noodle Head Story Time — Children ages 4 to 8. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Mondays, 4 p.m.

Art programs — Runs weekly during Story Time. Art in the Afternoon, Headquarters, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; The Paintbrush, South, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.; Art with Char, East, Thursdays, 4 p.m.

Displays for November: headquarters, celebration of Dr. Who by Robert Clyde Allen; South, bobbin lace by Marge Harbaugh; East, Christmas by Mary Earnhardt.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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