Remember When: Planes Raced Against Cars At The Sheepshead Bay Racetrack
Katherine Stinson, aka “The Flying Schoolgirl”, was one of America’s first female pilots, having earned her pilot’s license in 1912 after only four hours of classes. Below are newspaper excerpts from just a few of her races at Sheepshead Bay Racetrack, which became a premiere venue for automobile races and stunt pilots.
The announcer, bellowing through a huge megaphone, called her the “Queen of the Air,” but she was more than that. She was like a part of the very firmament itself, miraculously made visible and playing vagrantly in her native element. The thrills the twenty-year-old aviatrix produced not only had the laity in the grandstand spellbound, but they astonished even veteran fliers of the other sex, of whom there were many present. It takes weight and muscles to hold a heavy biplane steady on its course, through a diving loop, but this frail, almost childish appearing girl duplicated the feats of the best of them and did it with seeming ease.
Then came a race between the girl flier and Resta. The automobilist failed to duplicate his former victory, for Miss Stinson’s machine was faster…and she won easily. The end was even more thrilling, for from a height of about 1,000 feet she turned downward and dropped like a plummet to within 100 feet of the ground until it seemed that she never could straighten out in time, only to curve to a level and alight easily.
The audience could hardly believe its eyes when Miss Stinson walked on the track, but the first flight, which left a double loop of smoke hanging in the quiet air, convinced the people of her ability, and she was greeted as she landed with a salvo of handclaps and auto horns.
The excerpts were brought to our attention by Historyans blog. Read more about Katherine Stinson here.
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