Oh the places they’ll go and the people they’ll see!!!
No wonder these girls are smiling and happy. They’ve had a chance to get up-close and personal with a real live astronaut!
Dr. Sandra Magnus (back row) has been in space THREE times! And spent 4-1/2 months on the International Space Station on N.A.S.A. Expedition 18 in 2008. The girls loved hearing about the challenges of washing one’s hair in a weightless environment. One of the girls was eating corn puffs out of a bag and Dr. Magnus told her astronauts couldn’t take snacks like that into space because if they did, the moment they opened the bag all of the contests would explode out of the bag and fly all over. She said that could be dangerous if one got caught in their eyes or did other damage.
Another popular celebrity was Julie Clark, retired Northwest Airlines Captain and aerobatic airshow pilot for 36 consecutive years in her “smokin” Beechcraft T-34. Here the girls were paying rapt attention while Julie told them about her gold-plated engine.
And guess who got multiple standing ovations throughout the day? Elizabeth Strophus, that’s who!
Liz captivated her audiences with tales of serving as a W.A.S.P. (Women’s Airforce Service Pilot) during WWII. She was fascinating, funny and entertaining. She exuded love of flying and love for the young girls attending this conference. She told about becoming a flight instructor for the “young men” coming into the service; ferrying multiple types of aircraft all over the country from one air base to another and flying anti-aircraft missions. She talked about not having uniforms like male pilots until Jackie Cochran had a uniform designed and produced for them. Then in 1944 the government unceremoniously disbanded the W.A.S.P.s and “told us to go home and get on with our lives.” When Liz got home she immediately went to Northwest Airlines to apply for a pilot job. She thought they’d be happy to have someone qualified to fly 8 different types of aircraft and with as much experience as she had. They said they’d be happy to have her all right, but not as a pilot. She was offered a desk job. She declined. The W.A.S.P’s went unrecognized for their service for 35 years, until finally they were awarded veteran status in 1977 and in 2009 the organization received a Congressional Gold Medal. Liz, at 91, continues to inspire and captivate audiences all over the country, making about 35 appearances a year.
Barb Wiley was the first female pilot hired by North Central Airlines in 1974, and one of the first three females in the U.S. hired by commercial airlines. Over the years North Central became Republic, then Northwest Airlines; and Barb served as a Captain on the Convair 580, DC-9, Airbus 320 and Boeing B-747 logging 23,000 hours. Barb retired in 2005
Here’s Barb being interviewed at Global Girls in Aviation Day in front of her Cessna 172XP on amphibious floats, which she flies to locations in Minnesota and Canada.
It was an honor and a privilege to meet these inspiring women and the excited and energetic girls who came to check out the possibility of careers in aviation and space. Go Boldly, Girls!
For more details about the day and lots of great photographs go to the AirSpace MN website.