As I was driving home from work yesterday I listened to Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" on the radio, and was fascinated by a story about a legendary German World War II pilot named Hanna Reitsch. With this in mind I began a little research of my own, and discovered a fascinating woman.
Over the years I have seen women slowly gain acceptance as pilots in the United States, and today it is not uncommon climb aboard a commercial aircraft or corporate jet only to find the Captain to be a young woman. In fact, one of my friends - a lovely young lady named Jan Wightman - flies Grumman G-V's for NetJets. However, I find it fascinating to learn about this beautiful young german girl who became one of Hitler's favorite pilots.
One of her notable achievments was with respect to the German V-1 Flying Bomb. We all recall that many of these were launched against Britain during the Battle of Britain. Apparently the Germans modified the V-1 for manned flight operations, but a number of test pilots were either killed or severly injured in attempts to land the piloted version of the bomb. Late in the war Hannah Reitsch made test flights in the piloted V-1 and was successful in landing the craft, mainly because of her experiences as a test pilot for the very fast rocket plane, the ME163. She was able to successfully land the manned version of the V-1, but only at over 200 km/h as the craft had an extremely high stall speed.
More on Hanna Reitsch will follow tomorrow.
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