Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Women Pilots from Dayton Ohio

Five women from Dayton Ohio with a common interest in being airplane pilots formed the Dayton Women Pilots’ Club in November of 1931. They met monthly.

Three of the women, Iona Coppedge, Jo Garrigus, and Betty Hanauer had private pilot’s licenses. The other two members, Rosetta Zimmerman and Sue Malone were working toward certification

A photograph of the five women and an accompanying article about them was in the October 23, 1932 “Dayton Journal”. It was the first year anniversary of their club. The following information about the adventurous women was gleaned from the article and is presented in order as they are pictured from left to right.

Coppedge worked as a field secretary in the legal branch at Wright Field. Her flight training was done through the Johnson flying service at the Dayton airport. She had 50 hours of flying time at the time of the article, 40 of them solo. She got her license in February of 1932.

Garrigus got her license on September 30, 1931 and was the first licensed woman pilot in Dayton. Her husband was S. W. Garrigus. He was also a licensed pilot although he only had one arm. Jo had about 60 flying hours at the time of the article and about 50 of those were solo. She flew a Waco airplane owned by her husband.

Zimmerman had not flown solo but was a student of the Johnson flying service and was soon to be allowed to do so. She had been the only woman game warden in the country.

Hanauer got her private pilot’s license in May 1932. She had 30 flying hours with 20 of those being solo. She trained at the East Dayton flying service at the East Dayton airport. The airport was operated by her husband, Joe Hanauer, also a pilot. The East Dayton airport was situated where the Airway Shopping Center is now located. The Hanauers co-founded it on her mother’s farm. The air field was closed during WW II.

Malone was also a student at the East Dayton Flying service. She was expected to soon fly solo.

Other undated articles give evidence that the women were recognized nationally. Both Garrigus and Hanauer were invited to apply to be the co-pilot on an American Nurses’ Aviation Service flight. The project was to be a non-stop flight from New York to Rome with a male pilot and a female co-pilot. The transatlantic flight was to obtain medical information about the strain of long-distance flights on aviators, both male and female. The Dayton women did not participate. The planned flight left New York on September 13, 1932. Though sighted by a freighter about 400 miles from its expected destination, the plane never arrived. Its fate remains a mystery.

Coppedge and Hanauer were honored by being appointed members of the Women’s International Aerial Police. Following that appointment they were made honorary members of the Dayton police department.