Friday, September 5, 2014

Woman's Place in Aviation -- September 5, 2014

I can't find anything about Irene Vandy.  I like her description of flying.  Albert S Heinrich was a pioneering aviator who managed to live until 1974.  From the 25-September-1914 North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune. 

FIFTEEN hundred feet above my creditors hung In space twixt heaven and earth at peace with God and the world, and yet traveling at the rate of sixty or more miles an hour! 

That's what I felt on my first aeroplane trip, and mighty sorry was I to have to come back to earth, writes Irene Vandy in the New York Press.

There is nothing in the world quite like flying. Some have compared It with sailing -- water sailing; others have compared it with autoing on a very smooth road; but it is incomparable. Once or twice during my trip I looked aloft almost expecting to find the big white-winged mechanical bird hung from a wire attached to gigantic telegraph poles and operated on a pulley, so easy did it ride on space.  Once or twice the machine rocked a bit, and the sensation was delightful. Until the machine rocks, one can scarcely believe it is moving, no matter what the rate of speed.

Once we got lost in a cloud -- I and my aviator -- but I never knew It. I could still look down and realize that the world is round, for if there is any vantage point from which to prove the roundness of the earth it is in an aeroplane, provided you are high enough.

"Why," I tried to explain, "I never knew how small the world was before." For it seemed all stretched below me like toy farms, where one could pick up the houses in one's hand and play with them; but the rush of wind caught the words, and I thought I should never again get my mouth closed, when there was a slight dip on one wing and the machine turned in another direction.

We were now passing over the Belmont race track, and the hurdles showed plainly below like so many matches, or maybe toothpicks, painted white. The grandstand was no bigger than a copy of some popular novel. I wished there had been some activity. It would have been interesting to see those tiny horses. 

But I was to be rewarded for my love of the horse As we passed over Westbury they were having a practice game on the polo field. I looked down and saw the midget beasties racing hither and thither, with momentary gleams of a mallet raised in the air, like a splinter. I saw a train pull into the Hempstead station -- a train no bigger than these one buys for baby on the street, "five cents the train;" I saw the Garden City hotel, St. Paul's school, the Salisbury golf links, with men and women moving about like tiny china dolls, the buildings no bigger than toy blocks that a baby could handle.

Imagine the glory of all this under a perfect sky and a setting sun reflecting that peculiar radiance of scintillating lights on a background of greens and browns, with here and there a red roof blending into the whole, and trees you wanted to pick for a boutonniere.

Somehow it never occurred to me to be afraid.  An utter relaxation came over me, and I gave myself up to the thrill of the beauty all round me.  It seemed as though upon leaving terra firma my last worry had vanished. I wished I might spend my summer vacation in the air.

But then I had absolute confidence in the ability of my aviator -- absolute confidence in the stability of his aeroplane which, I suppose, is half the game. The flight was from the Hempstead Plains aviation field, which, by the way, never had the right to the name, because it lies in Garden City, and not in Hempstead at all. It is really Old Camp Black of Spanish-American war fame, and is as large as Central park. The usual passenger flight is once round the field, a distance of about four miles, and takes about as many minutes, at a height of 200 feet. However, the aviator does not really care about flying so low, and if you show no usin of fear you are liable to go higher, and there is less danger, for it is harder to shut off the engine and volplane down from a height of a few hundred feet than it is from a height of a thousand feet, and not volplaning down means sometimes landing with a thump.  The 1,000-foot volplane and easy landing is one of the tests the Aeroclub requires before granting
a license.

My trip was with Mr. Albert Heinrich of the Heinrich Aeroplane company, who owns one of the lightest and prettiest craft, afloat -- a monoplane of about six hundred and fifty pounds, with a very narrow, graceful fuselage, laced up the center -- dainty and attractive to women especially. He finished second last July in the race round New York, and has never had a fall since the days when he was learning to fly. That is, perhaps, the reason I lost all sense of fear. I could readily realize the fascination of flying to women, and, once in the air myself, the desire to learn to fly an aeroplane all but conquered me.

But the monoplane had tipped its nose groundward and we were volplaning down. The tip I scarcely felt, but when I realized the engine had been shut off and we were coming down, riding on air at an angle of more than forty-five degrees, it sort of caught my breath, but we landed easy as a bird, without so much as a bump.

And then, for the first time since the flight began, I felt like a hero.

"How did it feel? Didn't you feel a sort of goneness all here?" placing their hands on the spot where stomachs ought to be. "Weren't you afraid when you got in the cloud? Could you see us?"

These were a few of the questions fired at me from the rapid-fire gun of my bundle of friends,
but the beauty -- the absolute peace of it all -- was upon me.

"How long was I up?" I replied, ignoring their questions.

"Just twenty-three minutes," they answered, and I looked my amazement, for it seemed but five at the most.

"No," said I to all their questions, except the one as to how does it feel, and to that I gave the same answer that Colonel Vanderbilt, Anne Morgan, Mrs. Charles Whitman, Mrs, W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., Mrs. Clifford B. Harmon, and a host of others who have flown have given; "I never enjoyed anything more in my life!" And I was not surprised, as I used to be, that women had gone into the game.

By the way, you will ask. if this is so, have the women who flew dropped out one by one, till today there is but one of the trio who used to appear at International meets left flying -- Mlle. Helen Dutrieu, a French woman?

There are several reasons. One is that the day of aviation as an exhibition is over unless one can cater to a morbid public. The aviator who today can fly upside down and inside out, who can loop loops, who can tango and hesitate in the air, balancing first on one wing, then on the other, and keeping the audience in momentary expectancy of seeing him smashed to death amid a wreckage of engine, ires, wood and canvas, is the man who draws. From war to aeronautics there is but one hero in the public eye -- he or she who defies death and comes out alive. The days of "Darius Green and His Flying Machine" and "Flying over the celebration to astonish creation" are over. Down on Long Island, where the ground Is flat, and flying is comparatively safe, If one knows how, the buzz of the aeroplane is as familiar as the buzz of the mosquito over in Jersey.

Women are naturally more cautious than men.  A man may do and dare before ho knows how to do and dare, but if a woman does and dares you may be pretty sure she knows what she is doing and daring, of course, always, with the exception which proves the rule. Now that straight flying is no longer interesting, because it is comparatively safe, women will not go into the trick flying. Therefore, there is no commercial market for them. The only thing left is aerial navigation
and, necessarily, passenger-carrying.

Few women will carry passengers at the moment. The only passenger-carrying woman in America just at present Is Ruth Law, now in Newport. who owns and operates a Wright biplane. Perhaps women place a higher value on life than men, and will run no risks. But more probable is the effect of the tragic death of Miss Harriet Quimby, killed in flight two years ago.  Since then Miss Matilda Moisant, one of the trio who was always on hand at international meets with Miss Quimby and Mlle. Dutrieu, has dropped out. The Baroness de la Roche, the first woman in the world to fly, has also dropped out, but possibly because she broke both legs In a fall.
Another reason why women have dropped out of the game, or given up momentarily is that the expense of buying and maintaining an aeroplane is too great. Since the circus days of ordinary
stunts have culled their death roll and are over there is not sufficient thrill in the mere fact of a woman flying to draw, and managers will not put up the funds for a machine. And still another reason is that men -- the aviators themselves -- do not like to see women risk their lives in the game.

Despite all this, however, there Is today a dear little woman, pretty as a picture, who has entered the game and intends to win. She Is Mrs. Marlon Sims, a widow, and a pupil of Mr. Heinrich. She has declared her intention of being ready next May to fly at the Panama-Pacific exposition in California, and afterward to take a trip In a flying machine round the world. She became interested in aeronautics about a year ago and could not rest till she had learned how to fly, though to date she has not taken her pilot's license.

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