One of my favorite women from history is Amelia Earhart. As the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, she had some serious guts. Amelia’s grit is also a testament to the influence of upbringing. Her mother didn’t care to raise “nice little girls,” instead allowing Amelia and her sister more freedom to be themselves. When this adventurous lady experienced her first flight, she was hooked. Amelia’s mom even helped pay for flying lessons and, well, the rest is history. It’s yet another example that with the support of a strong woman in your life, the sky really is the limit.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 5.4 Percent
Amelia Earhart learned to fly from Neta Snook, another female aviator, a rarity in the 1920s. Nearly a century later, you’d expect women to have infiltrated the soaring skies in swarms. But that just isn’t the case. According to the Airman Database, women account for only about 5.4 percent of commercial-airline pilots worldwide. In the United States, it’s even lower, with women making up about 5.1 percent of commercial pilots.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Beverley Bass, Former Airline Pilot
When we heard about today’s Woman to Watch, we knew you needed to know her story. Beverley Bass was the third woman hired by American Airlines, and was the first woman to rise to the rank of pilot for a commercial airline. Despite these achievements, it was Beverley’s heroic actions on Sept. that have others now literally singing her praises.
On that fateful day, Beverley piloted a plane that was headed from Paris to Dallas. When she got word of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Beverley’s flight was diverted to a tiny town in Newfoundland called Gander, more than 3,000 miles from its original destination. As her plane approached Gander, Beverley noticed the immense number of other jets—dozens had been diverted to the town when airspace was hurriedly shut down—along with citizens lining the runway, eager to help. It was the first time since World War II there were so many planes on the tarmac in Gander, a town of about 11,000.
After nearly seven hours in the air, passengers and crew on Beverley’s flight had to spend 21 more hours on the airplane. But Beverly raves about the people of Gander, who were considerate enough to provide diapers and formula for babies on board and who filled about 2,000 prescriptions for passengers in the middle of the night. Once the passengers were allowed to exit the plane, they were greeted by rows of tables filled with homemade meals prepared by Gander residents overnight.
This amazing story gets better. Though Beverley is now retired, she’s reliving that remarkable experience—and so can you—with the recent release of a wonderful Broadway musical called Come From Away, which recounts the flight’s real-life experience. The musical gives viewers a real glimpse of what it was like that day when 7,000 passengers landed in Gander. Directed by a Tony Award winner and written by two Tony Award nominees, Come From Away has received enduring praise, despite its connection to an overwhelmingly tragic moment in American history.
When Beverley was a kid and was obsessed with flying, she’d jump off her family’s washing machine to simulate flight. Following her groundbreaking aviation career, Beverley can still be found flying, except now, it’s to see the Broadway musical depicting her extraordinary story, and she’s done so 67 times. But who’s counting?
QUITE THE QUOTE
Let’s end today’s On The Dot with an inspiring quote from the incomparable Amelia Earhart, who said:
“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.
To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.