KATHERINE STINSON Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Katherine Stinson (February 14, 1891, in Fort Payne, Alabama July 8, 1977, in               
Santa Fe, New Mexico). She was the fourth woman in the United States to obtain a             
pilot's certificate, which she earned on July 24, 1912, at the age of 21.                   
Initially, she planned to get her certificate and earn money she earned from                 
exhibition flying to pay for her music lessons. However, she found she liked                 
flying so much that she gave up her piano career and decided to become an                   
aviatrix. She took her flying lessons from the well-known aviator Max Lille, who             
initially refused to teach her because she was female. But she persuaded him to             
give her a trial lesson and was so good that she flew alone after only four                 
hours of instruction. A year after receiving her certificate, she began                     
exhibition flying. On the exhibition circuit, she was known as the "Flying                   
After she received her certificate, Stinson and her family moved to San Antonio,             
Texas, an area with an ideal climate for flying. There, she and her sister                   
Marjorie began giving flying instruction at her family's aviation school in                 
Texas. On July 18, 1915, Stinson became the first woman to perform a loop, at               
Cicero Field in Chicago, Illinois, and went on to perform this feat some 500                 
times without a single accident. She also was one of the first women authorized             
to carry airmail for the United States. During World War I, Stinson flew a                   
Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" and a Curtiss Stinson-Special (a single seat version of               
the JN aircraft built to her specifications) for fundraising tours for the                   
American Red Cross. During exhibition flights in Canada, Stinson set a Canadian             
distance and endurance record, and made the second air mail flight in Canada                 
between Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.                                                       
Of note is the fact that all of her stunt flying was done in aircraft using the             
Wright control system which uses two side-mounted levers for pitch and roll,                 
with top mounted controls for throttle and yaw.                                             
The Stinson School closed in 1917, and Katherine became an ambulance driver for             
the Red Cross in Europe. There, she contracted influenza, which turned into                 
tuberculosis in 1920, causing her retirement from aviation. In 1928, she married             
airman Miguel Antonio Otero, Jr., son of the former territorial governor of New             
Mexico. Although she could no longer fly, she worked as an architect for many               
years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She died in 1977 at the age of 86.                           
Her flying inspired her brothers to form the Stinson Aircraft Company.                       
A replica of her 1918 Curtiss Stinson-Special is on display at the Alberta                   
Aviation Museum in Edmonton.                                                                 
The second oldest general aviation airport in the United States, Stinson                     
Municipal Airport (KSSF) in San Antonio, Texas, was named in the Stinson family's