|Posted on May 06, 2011 12:05:55 AM | Gerald Steeman | 0 Comments ||
Imagine you are a woman who was born at the end of the 19th century. Imagine being a motorcycle dispatch rider in WWI. Imagine being an athlete and setting a world record for the high jump. Imagine being the most famous aviatrix of the day. Imagine being all of these things and you would be named Mary, Lady Heath (born Sophie Catherine Theresa Mary Peirce-Evans; married name, Eliott-Lynn), Britain’s Lady Lindy.
Lady Heath led a remarkable albeit tragic (she died destitute) life by anyone’s standard. Above all, she was an outspoken advocate of aviation in actions and words. You can connect to this remarkable personality by reading her “Suggestions for Popularizing Civil Aviation” available on the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS).
Lady Heath begins her argument stating that “[t]he public generally is taking very little interest in the progress of Civil Aviation, and the time has come to educate the public in aeronautics and to make them realize the far-reaching importance of air transport.”
The document is a fascinating window into the dawn of aviation, its fledgling growth, and the excitement that surrounded the burgeoning 20th century. Lady Heath proved prescient in many areas. She foresees frequent flyer miles: “Air travelers should be encouraged by receiving prizes for biggest annual air travel mileage” (p.11). She also provides an accurate description of modern flight arrival and departure monitors (although the entertainment value may be debatable these days):
In the public enclosure there should be electric signs operated from the control tower, announcing name of aeroplane just arriving or just departing, destination, or where come from, so that visitors can take an intelligent interest in what is going on, instead of standing aimlessly about and being hopelessly bored as they are at present. (p.5)
When juxtaposed with our present-day sensibilities, she also provides several curious ideas that would be unimaginable today. One example involves maximizing the marketing value of aircraft during their transport on ground: “Aeroplanes in transit by road anywhere near the Capital or other large towns should be deliberately carted through the main streets of towns” (p.4). Imagine a 250-seat airliner carted through Washington, DC on the way to Reagan National Airport!
Other ideas she offers have come and gone: “[I]n all-metal aircraft smoking is permissible, which is an important item of comfort on long journeys” (12).
Take a look at the document. It is sure to amaze and bring a smile to your face, especially her idea on what well-known actresses could do to help with popularizing aviation. Find it on page 11.
“Suggestions for Popularizing Civil Aviation” (NACA-SP-1): http://hdl.handle.net/2060/20090015031
More about Lady Heath: http://historicalaviationireland.com/archives/heath.html
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Tags : Authors, General, History