WOMEN IN AVIATION
Kathleen Hanser tells the colourful story of American aviatrix Pancho Barnes , who broke air speed records flew in Hollywood films and was the toast of all the top test pilots
Pancho Barnes adhered to the profile of a ‘man’s man’ in every way but one – she was a woman. She smoked cigars, always wore trousers, preferred hanging out with men, swore like a sailor, drank with the best of them, craved adventure and feared nothing. Born Florence Leontine Lowe in 1901, Pancho gew up in southern California, USA. Her grandfather, Thaddeus S C Lowe – who created President Lincoln’s Union Army Balloon Corps during the American Civil War, and was later known as the father of US military aerial reconnaissance – took her to one of the country’s first airshows when she was a child. He told Florence that everyone would be flying aeroplanes when she grew up and that she would be a flier, too. It turned out he was right, and in a big way.