Tuesday, June 11, 2013

BTTC: Florence from The Jeffersons, Cernan's Launch to the Moon, Retracing Flight in Arizona

A Newsletter from the Producer of
Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby 
Newsletter #22
  June 10th, 2013
Welcome to the newsletter about:

Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby (BTTC). 

As I write this newsletter, the Air Race Classic (ARC), the current women's air race, is about to begin. This year the terminus of the race will be in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville is near derby contestant Louise Thaden's home town of Bentonville, Arkansas. I'm sure Louise would have been thrilled to know a women's air race was happening so close to her home. Kudos to everyone flying this year's race as they carry on the tradition of the twenty amazing pilots from 1929. Here's wishing each team a fast, safe and fun race.

Below is some information about upcoming events, my experience retracing part of the women's race route in Arizona, including Marvel's crash site, some recent press and a highlight on Ruth Elder.

I hope everyone has a great summer. Thanks as always for your support.

Heather Taylor

Producer of the Award-Winning documentary Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby. An Archetypal Images Production.
In This Issue
Marla Gibbs, 1,000 stories & Astronaut Eugene Cernan
Yuma & Douglas Airport: An Arizona Expedition
Ruth Elder: Pioneer in Aviation
BTTC DVD Available
What is BTTC?
On The Radio, Enoch Pratt & Upcoming Events
More Clips of BTTC on Youtube
Boston Strong
BTTC Tshirts For Sale
Thank you

Marla Gibbs, 1,000 Stories & Astronaut Eugene Cernan

I was privileged to meet actress Marla Gibbs recently at the Annapolis Film Festival. Most people know Mrs. Gibbs as Florence, the maid, on the Jeffersons. However, Gibbs acting credentials go far and above that of the iconic role. Mrs. Gibbs, now in her eighties, has the most incredible ability to switch into character, bringing incredible energy and focus to her roles. Watching her is witnessing a true artist in action. She was extremely personable, gracious and absolutely lovely at the festival. I am a fan all over again.
Marla Gibbs

The Story Exchange is an on-line organization that highlights women in business. Currently they are showcasing 1,000 stories of women in business. I am proud to say that my story producing BTTC is one of the 1,000 selected. I wrote an article for them called How 20 Female Pilots From 1929 Guide Me in My Business Today. You can read the article here:  http://thestoryexchange.org/twenty-female-pilots-1929-guide-business-today/

Maryland Life Magazine recently posted a brief write up on me/BTTC: http://www.marylandlife.com/living/breaking-through-the-clouds/

The last astronaut to walk on the moon, Eugene Cernan, Cernan was one of the men who presented the Combs Gates Award to me from the National Aviation Hall of Fame. What I didn't realize at the time, though, is that I had actually witnessed Cernan's launch to the moon! I was going through some family memorabilia and found souvenirs from that day! Talk about synchronicity. You can read about it on my blog and see a photo of Cernan back in the day: http://breakingthroughclouds.wordpress.com

Arizona Expedition, Honoring
Marvel, Douglas & Yuma Airports

A few weeks ago, I traced part of the women's journey during the derby as I traveled from Yuma to Douglas, Arizona.

 In 1929,  the women in the derby stopped at the Yuma Airport on the second day of the race as a refueling point on the way from San Bernardino, Ca to Phoenix, Arizona. It was 105 degrees when I arrived in Yuma, Arizona.The airport has been totally redone since the women flew through but not much has changed about the heat! I thought about the women flying over the area in mid-August in open cockpits and realized just how much heat truly was a factor! 

Yuma is where Amelia landed on the nose of her plane and damaged her propeller. Yuma is also the point of contention between the women and the race officials as the race officials wanted the women to stop in Calexico. The women were adamant about Yuma, threatening to stop the race if the officials didn't change the stop.

Yuma is near the Mexican border so I drove to the area near Algodones, Mexico where Bobbi crashed. I also saw the signs for Holtville, Ca where Thea Rasche had an emergency landing, and Calexico, CA where Claire Fahy also had an emergency landing.

The next day I drove to Wellton, Arizona to see the area where Marvel Crosson crashed. Crosson left Yuma around noon that Monday, August 19th, 1929 and crashed in the mesquite jungle in Wellton approximately 15 minutes after take off.

There has been substantial change to the area in the past eighty plus years, primarily due to irrigation. The area was flattened out with wheat and soy crops planted all around. There were no more mesquite tree jungles and even the Gila River has been moved! Still, I felt a lot of reverence for the area. I also have a little bit of a better sense of the scenario that unfolded. Of course more questions were raised as well.
Site of Marvel Crosson's Crash
Site of area near Marve Crosson's Crash Site Today
I visited the lovely little library in Wellton while in town and am currently talking to contacts there about creating a plaque to honor Marvel Crosson. I will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Continuing on my desert adventure, I drove to Douglas, Arizona to screen BTTC for the city. The women of the derby stopped in Douglas on the 3rd day of the race. It is here where the women learned of Marvel's death. Douglas was pivotal, in my opinion, as the race took on an even more serious tone and purpose.

The  runway in Douglas, Arizona went straight into Agua Prieta, Mexico in 1929. There was only a chain link fence separating the two countries. Douglas was, in fact, the first international airport in the United States. It has just been established the previous year (though the official ceremony took place a few years later). The women went to Agua Prieta that night for dinner. They could have easily gotten in their planes, gone down the runway, had someone lift the chain link fence, and taxied into Mexico. Below is a shot of the Douglas runway today. The runway now stops at the Border Patrol and, of course, there is much more than a chain link fence there today.

Of course I did more research while in Douglas and learned that Ruth Elder was the first female pilot to land at Douglas. Lady Mary Heath had been to the airport previously but was a passenger, not a pilot. Ruth was checking out the airport and route in anticipation of the derby! She reportedly said "This is certainly a lovely airport."
Douglas Runway
Douglas Runway
I concluded my visit to Douglas by showing BTTC to a very enthusiastic audience. Someday I hope I can actually fly the course of the 1929 derby as the women did and experience it first hand. Until then, I enjoyed learning all I did and talking to the people in Yuma, Wellton and Douglas while sharing a little glimpse of some amazing history.

Pioneer in Aviation: Ruth Elder

Nearly five months after Lindbergh made his solo flight across the Atlantic, a young woman from Alabama, Ruth Elder, attempted to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

Ruth's second husband, Lyle Womack, introduced her to flying. His business required him to fly often and he Ruth would accompany him. Shortly after Lindbergh's flight, Ruth was at an airport in Lakeland, Florida where business man Ed Cornell was discussing Lindbergh's flight with friends. Ruth piped up and said "Gee, I'd sure like to be the first woman to fly across." Cornell took Ruth at her word and offered to finance the flight if she agreed. The next day, Ruth began flying lessons with Captain George Haldeman, a pilot from World War 1. Haldeman planned to fly with Ruth across the Atlantic.

On October 11, 1927, Ruth and George Haldeman took off from Roosevelt Field in NY in a single engine Stinson aircraft named "American Girl." The two flew 2,625 miles towards Paris in 36 hours when an oil line cracked. Elder and Halderman saw a Dutch Steamer ship passing by and dropped a message on the ship asking how far land was. They learned they were about 300 miles out and knew they couldn't make it. They landed their plane in the ocean and were rescued by the crew of the ship.

Though unsuccessful in crossing the Atlantic, Elder was still celebrated throughout the world. There were ticker tape parades in NY, lunch with President Calvin Coolidge, meetings with European Royalty and even roles in two silent movies with actors Hoot Gibson and Richard Dix.

Of course Amelia Earhart went on to win the title of Lady Lindy, although Earhart was a passenger at the time she crossed the Atlantic. Ruth and Amelia both flew in the 1929 derby and by all accounts, were supportive of each others careers.

Ruth would go on to marry six times in her life (actually 7 if you count the man she married twice). In fact, Ruth got engaged during the derby! Walter Camp Jr. asked her to marry him as she was about to take off in Santa Monica. She phoned him that night in San Bernardino to give him her answer, which was yes. Less than two weeks after the derby, the two were married. 

Ruth was the darling of the derby. She had many adventures during the race and earned the admiration of fans all over the world. Ruth was most certainly a Pioneer in Aviation.
Ruth Elder
Ruth Elder

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BTTC is available on DVD

BTTC March 2013
This Award Winning Documentary is available on DVD. For more information, please visit: http://breakingthroughtheclouds.com

The inspiring true story of 20 women who raced across America in 1929.  

Follow along as headline aviatrixes Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, Phoebe Omlie, Bobbi Trout, Louise Thaden and other well known women pilots of the era race across the country in the summer of 1929.

Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby provides over two hours of captivating viewing. The women's personalities shine through with original footage from the derby, much of which has not been seen in over eighty years.

Beautiful and colorful aerial recreations place the viewer in the pilot's seat.

Interviews with legendary aviatrixes
Elinor Smith Sullivan, and Patty Wagstaff, noted aviation historians, and family members of the original pilots
help bring the story alive.

Included are 23 minutes of bonus
discussing the challenges the women faced during the race, what the women wore and more information about the planes & navigation in 1929. 

Available at:
BTTC Cost $30 plus S&H

*Note:For those who do not like 
to order on-line or use pay pal,you 
may fill out this order form and 
mail a check:

What is Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby?

Breaking Through The Clouds: The 
First Women's National Air Derby is 
an award-winning documentary about  Amelia Earhart and 19 other brave pilots who defied convention by taking to the skies and racing across the country for the first Women's National Air Derby.
With just a compass and a road map to guide them, they faced cultural stereotypes, mechanical failures, threats of sabotage, navigational challenges and endless chicken dinners. The women persevered and became pioneering legends in aviation. Their story is inspiring to anyone who has the courage to follow their own dreams.  

Producer Heather Taylor had a calling to tell this inspiring story in the hopes of helping others to find the courage to search for their own path. While Heather hasn't had to deal with the endless chicken dinners like the women in the derby did, she does face the challenges of an an independent artist.  By spreading the word and supporting the film, you are helping Heather and other struggling artists reach for the sky in their own way and work towards breaking through the clouds. Thank you. 

Heather Taylor, Executive Producer
Archetypal Images, LLC

Enoch Pratt Screening, On the Radio & Upcoming Events

Below is the latest schedule for screenings and appearances. For those of you on Facebook and Twitter, I post updates frequently. I also try to update my website as soon as new information is announced. 

June 16th (Father's Day): On an internet radio show. 
Heather will be on the 21st Century Radio Show on Sunday, June 16th from 8 to 9:pm (Father's Day). The link is: http://www.21stcenturyradio.com/  

June 22nd: Enoch Pratt Library, Baltimore
The Maryland Women's Heritage Center is sponsoring a screening of BTTC on June 22nd, at 2pm, at the Enoch Pratt Central Library in Baltimore. The library is absolutely gorgeous. Please come if you are in the area:

Heather will be giving a presentation on the Art of Producing BTTC to the Society of Aviation Artists at BWI Airport on June 25th and showing the film on June 26th. I'm looking forward to showcasing all the artistic decisions that went into producing the film and commiserating with fellow artists.   

Heather will also be giving a presentation June 28th with pilot Terry Carbonell in Mobile, Al at the COPA Migration (Cirrus Owners Pilots Association). Terry, a current day air racer (and interviewee in BTTC) and I will be talking about air racing in 1929 versus racing today.    

If interested in a screening of BTTC or a presentation, please contact Heather@breakingthroughtheclouds.com  

More Clips of BTTC Available
I recently met with my wonderful editor, Paul Borostovik of Story Teller Productions, to cut a few more quick clips of BTTC. I have posted a few already including Phoebe "running drugs in LA County" and Louise Thaden's poem on flight. I will continue to post more clips in the coming weeks.

You can view them on my youtube channel (link below). Feel free to make comments and/or subscribe to my youtube channel as well: http://www.youtube.com/user/breakingthruclouds/videos?view=0

March 27th, I went to Boston for the first time. I met with a community of students, faculty and the general public at Simmons College to show and discuss BTTC. I was instantly struck by the feel of community.

A few weeks later, the Boston Bombings took place. The tragedy and senselessness of it all is overwhelming. Ironically it was an email from a person in Boston who alerted me to the event before I even saw it on the news.

While the bombings were atrocious in every sense of the word, the wave of humanity that has followed. Boston has come together in unity to showcase that good can overcome such horrors. Just as inspiring are the outpourings from the entire world.

The wonderful people I met in Boston at Simmons College really impressed me. I often speak of how the women in the derby were a community that supported one another. I think Boston has exemplified another way in how communities coming together is so essential. I look forward to returning to Bean Town and experiencing more kind heartedness from the Boston Strong.
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BTTC T-shirts Available

Did you know the logo on the t shirts is based on one of the trophies won in the 1929 Derby? You can briefly make out the trophy in the footage on race day in BTTC. 

Black BTTC AND white BTTC t-shirts
are available for purchase. Below is what the front of a black t-shirt looks like. The back has breakingthroughtheclouds.com written in the top middle part. 

If you would like a t-shirt, send me an email. The cost is $20 plus postage. Heather@breakingthroughtheclou
BTTC T-shirt (black).  White T-shirts with a black Logo are also available.

*PLEASE NOTE: If you haven't heard a response within a week, chances are 
I did not receive the email. 
You may call me at 
865-242-7551 to follow up, though my preference is email first so I can keep track of the order. Thank you. 

Thank You & 
Ways to Help
BTTC has only been able to succeed because of individual support! It is very much a grassroots effort so I appreciate every single comment, thumbs up, mention and email I receive. It truly keeps me going to know the film touches lives in some positive way.

If you would like to help me keep it going, here are just a few simple (and free) ideas that can make a big difference:
  • Post a positive comment (or thumbs up) on youtube underneath the BTTC clip  
  • Become a Fan of BTTC Face Book Page  
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Forward these newsletters, and/or sign up for my blog
  • Introduce me to contacts who might be interested in screening BTTC  
All links for the social media are below. You can also mention BTTC in your own blog, article, podcast or to friends and colleagues.

Of course there are a myriad of other ways to help as well. The sky's the limit! If the film has touched you in some way, please feel free to email and let me know. As always, thank you!
Archetypal Images, LLC | PO Box 1487 | Columbia | MD | 21044

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