Mildred Stinaff’s appreciate for flying was as distinct as the sky was blue.
Wearing a leather helmet and goggles, she skimmed the clouds in a biplane as the Ohio landscape stretched to the horizon. The ground underneath resembled a patchwork quilt. Sunlight glinted off distant lakes.
The drone of the motor, the hum of the propeller and the whoosh of the wind established a joyful cacophony. It was totally superb and all way too fleeting.
Millie, as her pals termed her, experienced dreamed of flying considering the fact that she was a tiny woman.
Born in Akron on Sept. 13, 1911, she was the daughter of Charles Henry Stinaff and Lillian Could Stinaff and the child sister of Charles Jr. and Girdwood Stinaff.
She grew up in the aviation age. Only a few months just before Millie was born, 50,000 spectators experienced crowded Summit Lake to observe New York aviator Glenn H. Curtiss land a “hydro-aeroplane” on the drinking water. It was the very first glimpse of mechanical flight for a lot of Akron inhabitants.
When barnstorming pilots arrived to city, it developed a commotion. All eyes looked upward. Young Millie took her initially airplane trip as a teen at Stow Area. The 15-moment flight transformed her lifestyle.
After graduating from North Higher School in 1928, Stinaff went to do the job for Akron Air Strains as a secretary. Just about anything to be all around airplanes.
As component of her pay back, she acquired an hour of traveling instruction for every 7 days. She took classes in 1929 from Lawrence “Hap” Roundtree at Mid-City Airport in Darrowville and Byron K. Newcomb at Akron Municipal Airport.
She learned that she was proficient at earning loops. In fact, Newcomb taught her how to complete the stunt prior to he showed her how to land. The planet turned upside-down as Stinaff executed a 360-diploma vertical flip in the sky.
On Oct. 5, 1929, Stinaff became the 2nd Akron lady to make a solo flight, adhering to Isabelle Chappell by only a couple of weeks at the municipal airport. A thirty day period later, Basic Tire & Rubber Co. named her Akron’s initially woman take a look at pilot, obtaining her get off and land underneath all sorts of temperature problems to assess the longevity of the company’s airplane tires.
A accurate pioneer, 18-12 months-previous Stinaff turned a charter member of the Ninety-Nines as one particular of the first 99 girls to acquire a pilot’s license. Launched in November 1929, the worldwide group’s members provided this kind of famed pilots as Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Ruth Elder and Phoebe Omlie.
Planet report broken
Newspaper headlines close to the nation hailed the “Akron aviatrix,” “girl pilot” and “feminine flyer” when she broke the women’s report for consecutive loops Jan. 30, 1930, at Mid-City Airport.
Texas pilot Dorothy Stocker had done 28 loops Nov. 28 in Houston, but Stinaff believed she could do superior, even nevertheless she had hardly ever made a lot more than 1 loop at a time.
She took off in a Chicken biplane with instructor Fred Alden about 4 p.m., done 26 loops, landed her trainer and took off yet again. She climbed to an altitude of about 2,500 toes and done 42 loops in 15 minutes.
“After I had performed 30 loops, it became virtually organic to keep on likely around and over,” Stinaff informed the Akron Beacon Journal. “I started to genuinely take pleasure in it about that time. But when a further 5 or 6 experienced been done, my arm began to give out and I experienced to use each arms on the last couple of loops.
“I experienced also lost about 1,000 toes altitude and was about a woods. I may possibly have been capable to do a couple of far more if I experienced felt simpler about my altitude. The previous loop was really tricky. But immediately after I came out of it and comfortable my arms, I felt all suitable once again.”
The Countrywide Aeronautic Affiliation accredited the feat, but Stinaff’s reign was transient. Kansas pilot Mildred E. Kauffman, 19, broke Stinaff’s history Feb. 21, 1930, by executing 46 consecutive loops more than St. Louis in 26 minutes.
Hundreds of spectators collected March 16 at Mid-Town Airport as Stinaff tried to retake the document. The blustery weather was not perfect. She produced two tries, executing 27 and 37 loops prior to giving up for the working day. She vowed to try once again.
In August, Stinaff handed her examination in Cleveland and was awarded a constrained business license. Akron pilot Frankie Renner experienced acquired hers only a couple months previously. Chappell was first in July.
The last loop
On June 13, 1931, Akron Municipal Airport founder B.E. “Shorty” Fulton employed Stinaff as the very first secretary and hostess of the new terminal.
Stinaff stop operate at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, to practice stunt loops. Her mothers and fathers ended up there to watch as the pilot climbed into a Fleet training biplane and took off. The newly overhauled airplane, which experienced been inspected by a mechanic that working day, rose to 1,200 toes.
“Climbing steeply, just across the jap border of the airport, she nosed the aircraft above on its back, lower the gun and glided back again into traveling position about 200 toes down below,” the Akron Occasions-Push reported. “Then something happened.”
The aircraft went into a tailspin, spiraling for about 400 feet right before Stinaff regained manage. Then it wobbled and went into yet another tailspin as her dad and mom watched with developing problem.
“When she went into a second spin, I realized she was in difficulties,” explained witness Merle Greenley, a representative for Pennsylvania Air Strains. “I could not assistance whispering to myself, ‘Give her the gun. Give her the gun,’ and my fingers manufactured motions with an imaginary stick. Then the airplane went down powering the hills.”
Stinaff crashed atop the wooded slope in which five many years later on Derby Downs would be created for the All-American Cleaning soap Box Derby.
Rescuers pulled her unconscious from the wreckage and rushed her to Akron Metropolis Healthcare facility, exactly where she died 15 minutes soon after arrival. It was a heartbreaking tragedy. The 19-calendar year-outdated pilot was the initial fatality at Akron Municipal Airport.
Mildred Stinaff cherished to fly. She lived to fly. It was totally wonderful and all as well fleeting.
Users of the Ninety-Nines sang “America” in Stinaff’s memory in the course of a backyard social gathering two times afterwards at the Merriman Highway house of Goodyear President Paul W. Litchfield and his wife, Florence.
Mourners packed the funeral Saturday at North Hill Church of Christ and traveled in a 200-vehicle procession to Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent. Portage County experienced been dwelling to the pilot’s ancestors and Stinaff Road in Kent is named for them.
Grieving aviators were being in the crowd at the cemetery. Other individuals ended up in the sky. As pallbearers reduced the casket into the floor, a development of 3 airplanes swooped down and scattered bouquets in excess of the grave.
At the top rated left of Stinaff’s headstone is the winged emblem for the National Aeronautic Affiliation. At the major ideal is her pilot’s license variety 10491.
At the base, the epitaph reads: “Jesus Saviour Pilot Me.”
Mark J. Value can be attained at [email protected]