Monday, December 1, 2003

The British Chairwoman’s Challenge


By Mardell Haskins

It is a sunny, hot, clear August day, with not a cloud in the pale blue sky, as my Piper Cherokee 235, shown in Figure A, lifts off from Perkins Field runway at 8:30am.


This is the Cherokee, in flight. (click for larger image)

My flight will be along the Colorado River Aqueduct System from Hoover Dam, downriver, over both lower dams, along the river through a portion of the agricultural area between the two dams, and back up the river to my starting point. I have chosen to start my flight from Bullhead City Airport, shown out my window in Figure B, because it is the closest airport to the river. I am very worried that I can not make the flight within the allowed 120 minutes.


Here's the David Dam with Bullhead City Airport in the background. (click for larger image)

I fly directly from my home airport, Perkins Field at Overton, Nevada located on the Overton Arm of Lake Mead, to Bullhead City, Arizona, some 100 miles south to start my "Defense of the Realm" flight.

I am a member of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots and the British Women Pilot's Association. I am also a member of the New Zealand Association of Women in Aviation and Women in Aviation, International. I joined the British Women Pilots Association about 5 years ago when I had attended the opening of The Ninety-Nines Exhibit at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Helsinki, Finland.

At the time I was an International Director, on the International Board of Directors for The Ninety Nines, and the official 99 representative for the exhibit opening. You can see a picture of me with my plane in Figure C.


Mardell is with her airplane at Perkins Field, Nevada. (click for larger image)

The Ninety Nines, formed in 1929, is the second oldest aviation organization in the United States. In 1929, there were only 117 licensed women pilots in the U.S. Ninety-nine of them sent back a dollar to become a charter members of the first women pilot's association. After much discussion, the women decided to name the organization after the number of members who joined. Which is how the Ninety-Nines got their name.

While I was in England visiting with British 99s, I attended and joined the British Women Pilots Association (BWPA). They have a flying competition every year based on a theme. This contest has fascinated me ever since I first heard about it. As a member of the BWPA, I get their semi-annual publication which printed the rules of the competition this year. Much to my surprise I found that you can not only do the flight in any kind of aircraft, including a hand glider, but fly it anywhere in the world.