Powder Puff Derby: Petticoat Pilots and Flying Flappers

Overview

Cowboy journalist, Will Rogers called it the Powder Puff Derby.After all, who had ever heard of such an outrageous idea as damesin planes? Worse, dames racing planes 2,700 miles from Californiato Cleveland. One reporter reckoned that far from finding thefinishing line, the ‘girls’ would have trouble findingsomewhere to powder their noses. He was wrong and one sunny day in1929 nineteen young women set out to prove it.

The planes were primitive and the navigational ...

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Overview

Cowboy journalist, Will Rogers called it the Powder Puff Derby.After all, who had ever heard of such an outrageous idea as damesin planes? Worse, dames racing planes 2,700 miles from Californiato Cleveland. One reporter reckoned that far from finding thefinishing line, the ‘girls’ would have trouble findingsomewhere to powder their noses. He was wrong and one sunny day in1929 nineteen young women set out to prove it.

The planes were primitive and the navigational equipmentnon-existent. Half the time, the pilots followed railway linesacross the prairies, or arrows painted on barn roofs – andyet, despite crashes, sabotage and storms, they made it andencouraged women everywhere to demand the same freedom andindependence that flying had given them.

Careless of their own safety and the prejudice of male pilots(‘the menace is the woman who thinks she should beflying… when she hasn’t the intelligence to scrub thefloor’), they strove to break new records - for height,speed, endurance and distance. They became stars and, in the spiritof the age, flew for the sheer joy of it, blazing a vapour trailthat future generations of women pilots would follow into the wideblue yonder.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“… an interesting, lively account…” (GoodBook Guide, May 2004)

“… about the eccentric and brave women of thepioneering  days of air racing.” (Oxford Times, 14 May2004)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470851401
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/11/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.82 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Walker is a highly experienced, script writer of drama and documentary for film, radio and television. He has won several Sony Awards for Best Play as well as a Royal Television Society Gold Medal and other awards including ones from the Society of Authors and Writers Guild. He has also written several novels and non-fiction works and teaches creative writing at Morley College London. 

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Table of Contents

The Dames in Planes
Introduction and acknowledgements
Maps
1 Clover Field 1
The Powder Puff Derby of 1929
2 Print the legend 11
Florence 'Pancho' Barnes
3 Bicycle dreams 55
Aerial nymphs and parachute artistes: Elisabeth Thible and Dolly Shepherd
Early birds: Elise de Laroche, Katherine Stinson, Hilda Hewlett, Harriet Quimby, Melli Beese, and Eugenie Shakhovskaya 55
4 Death of an unknown woman 93
Lady Mary Heath
5 Evelyn bobs her hair 125
Bobbi Trout
6 'They say I shot a man and killed him' 161
Jessie 'Chubbie' Miller
7 Degrees of difficulty 217
Bessie Coleman and Hanna Reitsch
8 Always stand on the right 237
Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson
Sources for each chapter 281
Select bibliography 285
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