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Hanna Reitsch - Women In Early Aviation

by John M. White |

Hanna Reitsch was an unusual women who broke another glass barrier, that of women in aviation.  As most of us know, during the Great War with the shortage of men, the United States turned to training women to ferry aircraft from factories in the U.S. to military facilities and from there into the war effort.

Across the pond in Europe another aviatrix was gaining notoriety as the personal pilot for Adlof Hitler, and Hanna Reitsch became the only woman to be awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Combined Pilot-Obeservation Badge in Gold with Diamonds. 

In the Third Reich she eas a test pilot working on military projects, and became the most famous woman pilot in Germany.  She was the first woman to fly a helicopter, a rocket plane, a jet fighter and to fly a glider over the Alps.  She was a test pilot for the ME163 rocket plane, and during her career set over 40 altitude and endurance records both during and after World War II. Me163

As a matter of fact, several of her international gliding records stand to this day. Born in 1912 she became the darling of the Third Reich, and with her photogenic looks and flying skills became the poster girl for Nazi propoganda.

More will follow tomorrow on this truly remarkable woman.

Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!


For once you have tasted flight
you will walk the earth
with your eyes turned skywards,
for there you have been
and there you will long to return. -- Leonardo da Vinci

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