Katherine Stinson Didn’t Plan on Being a Pilot

We know this because when Katherine was born, aviation as we know it hadn’t yet been invented. Katherine came to flying musically. A fantastic musician, Katherine won a piano in her city’s competition. One day, her music teacher told her it was time for Katherine to go study music in Europe, as Katherine’s teacher reached the limit of what she was able to teach Katherine. Excited, Katherine ran home to tell her mother the news. Emma Stinson, divorced with four children, was not as excited as her eldest daughter.

Although Emma ran the City Directory in Fort Payne, Alabama, Katherine’s birthplace, she didn’t have the extra money to spend on flying lessons. Telling her daughter this, Katherine’s eyes fell, fell right to the newspaper laying on the living room coffee table where the headlines screamed, “Barnstormers earn $1000 a day!” Snatching up the paper, Katherine told her mother, “That’s how I’ll get to Europe, I’ll learn to fly!” Thus, the career of the fourth woman in the United States to earn her pilot’s license, in 1912, was born.

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