Happy Mother's Day: Ralph Pays Tribute

Photo courtesy of Ralph Eccles

My mother had a hard time learning to drive, hated it and did not get her license until she was 18. At 20 she found that free flying lessons were available near her college. Males were obligated to serve in the Army, but nothing said only males could apply. She forced the issue, much to the horror of my grandmother, who had forbidden my grandfather from flying almost 10 years earlier when he crashed his Jenny (he flew Sopwith Camels in WWI). He reassured her that my mother would stop after a few lessons and Piper Cubs were safer than Jennys. She got her license and my grandfather started renting 2 planes at a time so she could build hours to be safe. He challenged her to spot landing competitions, aerobatics and spins (she did 10 turns to his 8). When Jacqueline Cochran created the WASP, Mom had much more than the minimum required 100 hours (male future aviators were not required to have any experience). Flying B-17's, B-24's, B-26's and even B-29's was the most central theme to any memories she shared, even though she  went on to become a major leader of several national  non-profits.

Chauvinism was a major issue of any talks she gave about flying bombers or ascending the corporate ranks (even in non-profits) and my Dad would not let her have a plane (or work for a for profit corporation), but my grandfather bought a Bonanza after the war, which she flew frequently, once while in labor with my brother (fastest way to get to the doctor and hospital she preferred). I now have a '57 Bonanza, which she loved to fly up until she was too weak at 82.

Thanks Mom!


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