ELINOR SMITH – THE FLYING FLAPPER – 1920s


Great Video on Elinor Smith.

Elinor Smith was born in 1911. She knew she was born to fly at the age of 6 when she took her first airplane ride. She started taking lessons at the age of 8. She was fortunate at that time to have parents who supported her in what she wanted to do. Her mother didn’t want to deny her daughter opportunities just because of her gender and her father had always had a passion for planes. These things helped her in her quest to fly. Elinor set many aviation records. Most of these records came because of her age. She was youngest woman to fly solo at the age of 15. At the age of 16, she became the youngest person to earn a pilot’s license in the U.S. On October 21, 1928 at the age of 17, Elinor flew under four East River Bridges in New York City. The bridges she flew under were the Queensboro, the Williamsburg, the Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Bridges. She is the only person ever to accomplish that feat. Her first world record was the endurance record she set on January 31, 1929 of 13 hours, 16 minutes, and 45 seconds. During that flight was the first time she had ever landed at night. In April of 1929, Elinor again broke the endurance record making it now 26 hours, 23 minutes, and 16 seconds.

Later that year, she teamed up with Bobbi Trout and set a joint record endurance flight of over 42 hours and became the first women to refuel a plane in midair. She also became the first person, male or female, to receive a transport pilot’s license at the age of 18. While she was still 18, she became the first woman to pilot a military aircraft.

In 1929, she became the first female executive pilot of the Irving Chute Co., for a nationwide tour to demonstrate parachute drops . In 1930, she became the first woman to test pilot for Long Island’s Fairchild Aviation Corp. In 1931, she became the first woman to fly over 30,000 feet, but she wanted to beat that record. So, a week later, she went up again and set a new women’s altitude record of 34, 500 feet.

Her proudest moment though was in 1930 when all the licensed fliers of the U.S. were asked to name the best female and male pilots in the United States. Elinor won. She said, “It was such an honor to know that my peers considered me the best.”

Elinor then married a year or two later and had two children. While she was pregnant with her third child, she thought maybe she shouldn’t be flying; that she should be home taking care of the children. So, she quit flying. Almost 25 years past before she piloted a plane again.

Elinor loved to fly; Flying was meant for her. She is such a great example to the aviatrix of today.

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About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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