Sheffield, MA (PRWEB) October 14, 2009
Amelia Earhart was a hero to most folks living in her time as the Amelia movie portrays. She was the first female passenger to make a transatlantic flight, which captured major media attention spotlighting her in becoming a role model for womens' entry into the male world of aviation. Amelia championed the women pilot's rights through organizing the Women's Air Derby, setting altitude and speed records, making cross country solo flights, starting the woman pilot organization The Ninety-Nines, flying solo across the Atlantic and her most famous tragic flight across the Pacific. Everyone knew Amelia's name. Everyone knew she was a woman pilot and a hero. But did this attention help the plight of other women trying to break into aviation?
In a new book, Flying Above the Glass Ceilng, the author Captain Nina Anderson, reveals that women were barred from commercial cockpits because they were seen as a threat to the image of a professional pilot -- a strapping, good-looking hunk of a man acting as the hero of the skies commanding a large airship with trusting passengers counting on him to keep them safe. How could a woman ever do that? Who would fly on an airliner with a woman in the cockpit?
Then in the 1970s, the new Amelia Earharts emerged - women who loved to fly and were as determined as Earhart was to create the opportunity for themselves. Where Amelia was a novelty, the new Amelias were a threat. As the book describes, these women were told they weren't being hired because there was no "ladies" room in the flight department, they would probably break up a marriage, they were too weak to fly, they were to scatterbrained to fly, women belonged at home, and they couldn't pass the company flight physical because they didn't have a prostate. But like Amelia, these women had a dream and refused to give up.
Eventually Bonnie Tiburzi was hired by American Airlines, Emily Howell by Frontier, Karen Kahn by Continental, Julie Clark by Golden West and Stephanie Wallach by Braniff. All tell their personal stories in Captain Anderson's book. Although it was tough going for many of them when dealing with the male ego and the "good old boy" network, they eventually found their place and got accepted. Like Amelia they became role models and paved the way for the women we see flying commercial airplanes today. The author herself was the first woman pilot at several regional airlines and finally was the first of several women pilots hired by corporations to fly business jets. Their stories and those of other women who broke into non-flying facets of aviation give inspiration to anyone climbing the corporate ladder. The glass ceiling seemed to have been cracked!
It was a new dawn of aviation for women during the 1920's and Amelia Earhart's own words set the course for women in aviation, "Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail their failure must be but a challenge to others." This wisdom was followed by the new Amelias in modern times who refused to accept failure and charted a new course for women in an industry previously dominated by men. Today over five percent of commercial pilots are women and as more of them find their way into the cockpit they can thank the new Amelia Earharts that opened the door.