From the Right Seat ~ Chief Pilot Emeritus Peter Rafle
I started writing this intending to tell you about the Stinson 10A, an old airplane that I am currently flying. The Stinson Aircraft Company was founded by Ed Stinson. Ed (1893 -1932) had an eventful aviation career but, he is best known as the brother of Katherine and Marjorie Stinson.
Katherine (1891- 1977) was the 4th woman to earn a pilot’s license. The year was 1912, she was 21, and was known as the “Flying School girl”. Katherine embarked on a flight demonstration tour throughout the United States and Canada. She was a popular performer, reportedly being paid over $2000, per flight. She developed a sky writing routine that used flares attached to the wing tips. Katherine was the first to solo at night and gave nighttime flight demonstrations. She was known for flying loops. She invented the “Dippy Twist Loop”, a loop with a roll at the top.
I was surprised to learn that Katherine was the first pilot to do preflight inspections, and the first precision flyer. Other firsts included distance records, flying air mail, and was the first woman to fly in Japan and China. Katherine contracted tuberculosis while driving an ambulance in wartime Europe. She returned home to get treatment, and never returned to flying. She died in 1977, after a long illness. and is buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery.
Marjorie (1896 – 1975) earned her pilot’s license in 1914 at the Wright Flying School in Dayton, Ohio. She was 18 and, soon after, opened her own flying school, as the lead instructor, in San Antonio, Texas. Her Mother was the business manager, brother Eddie was the chief mechanic.