Iread with great interest Rachael Peckham’s engaging story about the early aviatrix Harri- et Quimby in the summer 2014 edition.
Please be reassured that America’s pioneer pilots
continue to fascinate aviation scholars, practitioners and enthusiasts, even if, as Peckham
laments, the general public remains unaware of
many details. Indeed, on March 10, 2012,
women pilots worldwide celebrated the centennial of Quimby’s becoming the first female to fly
across the English Channel. Her intended route
entailed the shortest span of 22 miles; she drifted
25 additional miles before landing after a reported 59 minutes on April 16, 1912. I portrayed her
in the historic reenactment. I designed a replica
of Quimby’s trademark plum-colored satin flying suit based on her writings and photographs.
However, while Quimby guided a Blériot, I flew
a Cessna Skyhawk 172, a plane I own. (See the
BBC and ITV Meridian reports on You Tube or
the account on the Women of Aviation Worldwide website, using my name as the keyword.)
The cause of Quimby’s fatal crash provoked
controversy, Peckham notes. I agree with experts
who assert that evidence suggests pilot error. Aircraft designer Glenn Martin, witnessing Quimby’s
demise at the Harvard-Boston Aviation Meet on
July 1, 1912, thought she had descended too steeply from 4,000 feet in a short time and only made a
half circle during her approach to land. He contended that she should have made a complete circle and then attempted to land against the wind.
Quimby, 37, was not wearing a seat belt (nor was
her passenger, who also died). The lack of precaution was unsurprising, Peckham writes, since that
type of safety equipment hadn’t become standard.
In fact, many pilots and manufacturers deemed the
seat belt unnecessary. But as early as 1910, it had
been adapted for flying by aviator Benjamin Fou-lois, then an Army lieutenant.
He appears in my book, Texas Takes Wing: A
Century of Flight in the Lone Star State, published
earlier this year by University of Texas Press.
Texas Takes Wing explores daredevil aviators,
designers, manufacturers, and others in the in-
dustry — men and women who have made the
region pivotal in military flight training, aircraft
manufacturing during wartime, commercial
aviation, general aviation, and agricultural air
service. I reference dozens of unsung trailblaz-
ers and acclaimed counterparts. For instance,
Matilde Moisant was the second American
woman to earn a pilot’s license, after her friend
Quimby, and the first woman to fly in Texas. On
March 23, 1912, Moisant performed over Dal-
las, earning $5,000 for a 25-minute flight in her
Blériot. Imagine if Quimby, a journalist as Peck-
ham indicates, penned the headline!
— Barbara Ganson, Associate Professor of History
and Director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Florida Atlantic University, and chapter secretary and former president and vice president
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas, the great Welsh writer. His important voice remains heard
in many English department courses in the academy. So it is doubly fitting to honor him in this edition. His works include, first and foremost, moving poems such as “And Death Shall Have No
Dominion” and “Do Not Go Gentle into That
Good Night,” the serenely beautiful radio play
Under Milk Wood, majestic recordings, among
them the lyrical story “A Child’s Christmas in
Wales,” and the fascinating autobiographical
story collection, Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Dog. Thomas possessed a great capacity for
creating words that touched us then, as they do
decades after his death in 1953.
I saw him sitting at the bar in the White Horse
Tavern, now a literary hangout in New York City
but then his private retreat when staying in America, during the fatal bender that led to his demise
at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village.
I’ve visited his grave, a simple cross at St. Martin’s
Church in Laugharne, Wales, as well as his humble home in that fishing village. These encounters
with the man, his writings, his recorded voice,
and the sites where he lived, wrote and died
prompted the poem that follows, my own way of
Above the estuary of Laugharne,
seeing gentle as the water rolled
ashore and out again to sea,
he strode on his high walks
with power of figure, mighty ken,
and rolling voice that carried,
like the tide, its own eternal gait.
Above the estuary of Laugharne,
poised within his flimsy wooden perch
(aerie for the eagle in the man),
he overlorded sea and land
and made them his through Bardic voice.
— Robert Lima, poet and Professor Emeritus of
Spanish and Comparative Literature at Penn State,
his Phi Kappa Phi chapter
Society Wins Awards
Phi Kappa Phi earned
three 2014 APEX Awards
for Publication Excellence.
Department won a Grand
Award, the highest prize,
for “Mission in Action:
2012 Phi Kappa Phi Annual
Report,” in the Annual
Reports category. And
Phi Kappa Phi Forum garnered two Awards of
Excellence in Magazines, Journals & Tabloids.
Of 2,075 submissions in print, digital and
design communication in the 26th annual
competition, 100 received Grand Awards, less
than five percent. In Annual Reports, five of
82 did, or six percent.
Judges praised “Mission in Action” as “very
deftly handled,” applauding the “clean, simple,
elegant design packed with usefully captioned
photos, easily digested ‘chunked’ copy segments,
and unusually intricate, varied spreads.”
This quarterly’s two 2014 Awards of Excellence
mark the sixth straight year of recognition. The
summer 2013 edition, theme of “Dreams,” won
for Magazines, Journals & Tabloids — Print Over
32 Pages. Fall 2013, theme of “Funny Business,”
won for Magazine, Journal & Tabloid Writing.
Of 493 entries in Magazines, Journals & Tabloids
subcategories, 198 were honored, or 40 percent.
Forty percent of all applicants, or 832 entries, won
Awards of Excellence.
The magazine earned a 2012 Grand Award for
the fall 2011 edition, theme of “9/11.”
— Staff report
Taking Commemorative Flight
Letters to the Editor
Phi Kappa Phi Forum welcomes letters to the editor
for consideration for publication. Letters should be
no more than 400 words and may be edited for
content or length. Note: submission does not
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based on appropriateness and space. Send letters to:
Letters to the Editor
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7576 Goodwood Blvd.
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Library of Congress Harriet Quimby
Coming Next Issue
Winter 2014 will celebrate those who have
won monetary awards from Phi Kappa Phi in the