August 24, 2012
It was sad to hear of the passing of a personal heroine recently. Sally Ride, at the age of 61, died of pancreatic cancer. She was the first female to escape Earth’s orbit when she joined the astronaut crew of the shuttle, Challenger. After leaving NASA, she returned to private life as a scientist and physics teacher. In a horrific twist of fate, it was on the Challenger that another teacher, Christa McAuliffe, lost her life.
Who can ever forget that moment? I was so happy to be working afternoons because that way I could watch the lift-off live. First thing I did was call my husband, also a NASA fan, at work. He was as saddened as I was.
Many brave women have blazed a trail to the heavens above before them both, and their courage speaks of their fallen sisters before them.
Now would be a good time to reread material on Amelia Earhart. A brand new search is on its way to discover where her plane went down. This fellow is convinced that he has new information to finally solve the longtime mystery.
While I was researching her, I discovered another gutsy, bold aviatrix by the name of Jackie Cochran. Born into abject poverty, she lead a fascinating life, won many air races, and was the first female pilot to fly a bomber across the Atlantic during World War II. A close friend of Chuck Yeager, she also flew at the speed of sound and over, breaking many speed records in the 60s.
American Heroes of Exploration and Flight, which we have in our system, contains short stories on these and others.