DALLAS • MARCH 5 - 10, 2012
Rainin' in Texas
After Tucson, I returned to Taos, New Mexico for two short nights and then drove off Tuesday morning, March 5th, toward Texas. It started raining cats and dogs the next day as I neared Dallas and didn’t let up for my entire stay.
I had an appointment Wednesday afternoon, March 6, to videotape the oldest University of Minnesota Cadette, Cora Alexander Streit, in DeSoto, which is southwest of downtown Dallas. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my still camera into her house, so I have no photo of her to offer here.
Cora (at age 92) lives alone (and quite well, thank you) in her own house. She gifted me my first Cadette-generated blueprint, which is so wide it covers two large drafting tables side by side.
She and another Cadette in the Columbus drafting department were given a rush order near the end of the war to produce a drawing of a new design for the SB2C with three seats (two places for pilots instead of one; plus the gunner). Because the plane was never manufactured, they were permitted to take home two copies. Unheard of! No one (usually) made off with blueprints from an airplane factory so soon after the war. I am deeply grateful she gave this one to me.
The two of us pored over the drawing, which stretched the length of her living room. It was so crowded with complex details we could barely make it out. And try as she might (it had only been 67 years), she couldn’t point to a “third seat.” I’ll be looking for expert blueprint reading assistance further down the line.
International Women in Aviation Conference
March 8-10, I attended WAI's annual conference at the Hilton Anatole, a gi-normous convention complex. 3,350 attendees, including a good number of men, from the length and breadth of aviation — commercial airline pilots, aviation technology and piloting students, aeroengineers, and a LOT of military pilots. There were also representatives from associated aviation companies of every stripe, dominated by Boeing’s megapresence. Several WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) were in attendance, some of them in wheelchairs, but moving so fast they were clearly exhausting the young friends/guides who were pushing them.
Pictured at left with Peggy and me is IWASM (International Women's Air and Space Museum) Board President Connie Luhta.
The Spirit of Aviation...
... ran in all directions down the long corridors of the Hilton Anatole — and so did I. My feet were blistered and fatigued after two days of trying to cover all the workshop and member meetings and talks by aviation celebrities. On the first day, I got to sit in at the author’s table in the exhibition hall when the scheduled writer was unaccountably delayed. Otherwise, I hobnobbed and exchanged contact info with far too many people to keep track of.
WAI’s “Show Daily” newspaper interviewed me about my Cadette quest in their Friday morning edition (first half of article is on the right; second half, below).
Saturday — Final Night at WAI
The last treat of the day was meeting Regina Pynn, a young mechanical engineer, who decided that Peggy was the most interesting story in the whole building. We had to tear ourselves away from her because someone handed us free tickets to their RAWTHER expensive closing banquet.
After consuming our RAWTHER unexciting meat-and-potatoes dinner, we exited before the speeches started and headed home, thoroughly satisfied with our Day at the Races (Conference). So many fine-looking women in uniform, along with all those other high-spirited aviation enthusiasts, puts quite a spring in your step!