bhmbaglock
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A Vs B Female Edition

Sat Nov 05, 2005 10:34 am

Amelia vs. Beryl that is. Who do you think was the better pilot?

Ameila Earhart certainly got the publicity but was she better than Beryl Markham? Did she accomplish more? Personally I don't think so. I'll throw out a few reasons:

1. Unlike AE, she was an accomplished navigator with years of solo flying in the African bush to hone her skills.

2. While not pretty at the end and shorter than AE's, her major pioneering long range flight over the Atlantic from East to West was a success. Further, it was solo and she was the first person(not just the first woman) to accomplish this very difficult flight.

Anyway, let's have some fun and learn a bit of aviation history. Keep it friendly and delight the irony in the reversal of A and B flipping sides of the Atlantic.

btw, if you're reading this and thinking to yourself, who the hell is Beryl Markham then you need to grab a copy of her autobiography "West with the Night". Here's a decent online summary of her life: http://www.karenblixen.com/gale.html
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FaroeFlyer
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Sat Nov 05, 2005 10:38 am

Have no idea who Beryl Markham is, sorry.
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bhmbaglock
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Sat Nov 05, 2005 11:25 pm

I'm shocked that nobody here seems to know who Beryl Markham was. FYI, here are a few excerpts from the online biography linked above:

When Markham had been licensed for less than a year, she undertook a daring solo flight to England. She left Nairobi in a single-engine, 120-horsepower airplane that had no radio, no direction-finding equipment, and no speedometer. On the first day she flew northeast to Juba, a town in the Sudan, but was forced down a short distance from the airport by a storm and engine trouble. The next day she flew to Malakal on the Nile River. She tried to reach Khartoum, the capital city of the Sudan, on the following day but made it only halfway before the plane's engine failed. Landing in the desert, she repaired the engine as best she could. Local people helped her push the plane to harder sand, where she took off again and made it to a nearby airfield. The next morning Markham flew on to Khartoum, but the engine died twice along the way. In Khartoum it was discovered that the engine had a cracked piston ring. She was unable to get spare parts there, so she flew on to Atbara, where she replaced the piston.

When the engine continued to malfunction, Markham was forced to land outside Cairo, Egypt, in the middle of a dust storm that was so severe she could not see the ground as she was landing. After the British Royal Air Force repaired the engine for her, she flew on across the Mediterranean Sea, wearing an inner tube around her neck as a lifesaving device. Although bad weather plagued her flight across Europe, she finally landed safely in London. Her flight from Kenya had taken 23 days.



A telephone call from a small town in Nova Scotia finally brought news of the aviator. She had survived her trip, but the plane had crash-landed in a peat bog. With the nose of the plane stuck in the mud, she had climbed out and greeted two fishermen by saying, "I'm Mrs. Markham. I've just flown from England."

Her flight across the Atlantic had almost ended in tragedy when the fuel line to one of the plane's tanks froze, causing the engine to fail and the plane to fall toward the ocean. Just before Markham reached the sea, the line warmed up and the gasoline started to flow again, allowing her to pull the plane up to safety. It was another frozen fuel line that caused her to crash in Nova Scotia.

Disappointed that she had not managed to fly all the way to New York City, Markham was afraid the flight would be considered a failure. In fact, news services carried the report throughout the world, and she was hailed as a heroine. In Nova Scotia a U.S. Coast Guard plane met her, and she co-piloted it to New York, where she met Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and rode in a motorcade through the city. Markham returned to England to find she had become a celebrity. She lived there for the next few years but did not take up flying again. Although she talked about entering another of the great air races, her interest seems to have faded after her friend Campbell Black was killed in the race to South Africa.
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freakydeaky
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Sun Nov 06, 2005 3:32 am

I don't know if I could say which one was the better pilot - but I will say that both of them were very brave. I am spoiled by all the lessons learned from all those pioneer aviators. They pushed the limits so we don't have to today!!  praise 
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SonOfACaptain
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Sun Nov 06, 2005 3:52 am

Quoting BHMBAGLOCK (Reply 2):
in a single-engine, 120-horsepower airplane that had no radio, no direction-finding equipment, and no speedometer.

Since when does stupidity make a person great.  wink  There is a fine line between courageous and insanity.

-SOAC
Non Illegitimi Carborundum
 
bhmbaglock
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Sun Nov 06, 2005 3:08 pm

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 4):
Since when does stupidity make a person great. wink There is a fine line between courageous and insanity.

Remember that Africa in the 1920's was not the remote control world you are growing up in. At the time there were only a handful of actual airports in all of Africa, not a single one in Kenya at the time. Radio and DFE would have been of little use until the final legs of her flight. As for measuring airspeed, it's generally not too difficult to judge this by feel and sound at low speeds such as were common at the time.

The description of the conditions for this flight refers more to the state of aviation at the time than to any reckless choice on her part. If you read about this woman you will find that she was many things, some good, some bad, but most definitely not stupid.
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zvezda
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Sun Nov 06, 2005 5:43 pm

Quoting BHMBAGLOCK (Reply 5):
Remember that Africa in the 1920's was not the remote control world you are growing up in.

Africa also had not yet been devastated by foreign "aid". Africans were still self-sufficient and engaged in normal commerce. The gap between Africa and Europe was much smaller then than it is now.
 
NAV20
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:08 pm

Thanks, BHMBAGLOCK - I had only heard the name Beryl Markham before, never knew any details. She certainly seems to have been in the same league as Earhardt.

For me, Earhardt's biggest contribution was her flight from Hawaii to California. The winds on that trip can be plain awful. I think in fact that she may have been the first person to fly that trip (without dying in the attempt, I mean).

If I can offer a further name for consideration, what about Nancy Bird-Walton? Unlike the other two, she was a 'working aviator' rather than a publicity-seeker. She set up an air ambulance service in outback New South Wales in the thirties which became the model for the now world-famous Flying Doctor Service. She also almost single-handedly overcame the prejudice which looked like making sure that no Australian woman would ever be able to obtain a commercial pilot's licence, and founded an Australian Women Pilots' Association.

Her other distinction is that she is still very much 'alive and kicking' (aged 90-plus, I think) and will be a much-honoured guest at the Qantas anniversary celebrations later this month. Thus, incidentally, disproving the saying that "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots - but there are no old, bold pilots."  Smile

http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/nancy_bird_walton_bio.html
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deltagator
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:33 pm

Quoting Zvezda (Reply 6):
Africa also had not yet been devastated by foreign "aid".

Very funny. I hadn't looked at it that way before.

As for the original question...I think the win has to go to Beryl. She made it to a ripe old age and didn't get lost. (Unless of course Amelia is still hanging out on the island with JFK, Elvis, and Tupac Shakur.)
"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
 
bhmbaglock
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RE: A Vs B Female Edition

Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:12 pm

Thanks NAV for the info on Nancy Bird-Walton. As with you and Beryl Markham, I knew the name but not the details. Very entertaining reading and certainly a trail blazer!

I'm going to have to hit Amazon and buy a copy of her biography so I can make my mind up on this one. There seem to be many parallels between her and Beryl Markham.

It is worth pointing out that Beryl did spend quite a while as a professional pilot as well and likewise lived to a very ripe old age. She certainly would have accomplished more in the field of aviaition if she had not gone back to training horses. It certainly took a lot of determination and guts to break into two separate male dominated fields and excel in both beyond the wildest expectations.

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 8):
(Unless of course Amelia is still hanging out on the island with JFK, Elvis, and Tupac Shakur.)

 Big grin For some reason she didn't feel like coming home with Gilligan and the crew.
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