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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Gene Nora Jessen

Fridays Fabulous Flyer

Gene Nora (pronounced Janora)

Where do I begin for such an incredible awe inspiring woman? Last weekend at the 99 Northwest Conference where I had the most fortunate opportunity to meet Gene Nora? Or was it during the banquet when they bestowed the prestigious Governors Achievement Award for her outstanding commitment to aviation?

Actually... let's step back in time to 1960 where she was working her way through college as a flight instructor, on staff at the University of Oklahoma. But the excitement really began when she became part of the Mercury 13!

So the story began, that Dr. Lovelace was running a research clinic in Albuquerque where he would be testing women for an astronaut program. Thus Gene Nora wrote to him, and he invited her to come on down and test. She was one of the 13 women, out of 25, who passed testing. Thus, Mercury 13 was so named for the 13 surviving candidates. She was headed for phase II. The fact she never met Dr. Lovelace, or was never actually told she was in an astronaut program, some considered this as nothing but research.

Yet, she quit her job at the University in the Fall of 1961, to continue testing with phase II of "research", but a few days later the program was cancelled. Out of a job and her chance to fly to space she took a job as a flight instructor in 1962, the best flying job she could find as a woman. Yet...the story doesn't end there. She gets the job of a lifetime. Seriously... Beechcraft hired her as a sales demonstration pilot of their Musketeer. 

Three Musketeers!

She would fly a 90-day 3 airplane formation across the 48-contiguous states. Now, I'm not going to tell you more about this adventure because you have to read the book. Seriously... she wrote a book of this exciting duty The Fabulous Flight of the Three Musketeers. And it's great!

Not only is Gene Nora a brilliant author, but her story is amazing and the history of the Beech Musketeer is fascinating. I had no idea why that plane came into being, or the challenges of what it took to climb into a new model aircraft that you have never flown, in your high heels and a dress, and teach yourself how to fly formation. You will love this book as much as I, and understand why Gene Nora is one of the aviation greats.  

Not only did Beech give Gene Nora the job of a lifetime, but they gave her additional ratings that enabled her to fly the entire Beech line, but that's where she met her husband Bob Jessen. Bob had been a WWII B29 pilot and she met him as a Beech regional sales manager. They moved to Boise Idaho, where they raised their two children, owned a Beech dealership, ran an FBO and I think last I heard they've been married 51 years and counting.

Gene Nora also wrote a book about the first Powder Puff Derby.  The Powder Puff Derby of 1929. I think we all need to read this book, as Angelina Joli purchased the movie rights. The movie has not been made yet, but I for one am waiting for it. She is also an avid speaker, and will delight any audience, and has on many occasions.

Of her many accomplishments she has been the president of the Ninety-Nines, served on numerous community boards, and participated in founding two aviation museums. Not to mention, she has flown many air race classic races (ARC) the modern day Powder Puff Derby, and she still flies!

I also don't think I have laughed so hard at an aviation story, as listening to Gene Nora and Patty Pilot (retired United pilot) share their story about flying to  the most recent ARC banquet. Then I heard Gene Nora had a third book Amelia Was Right.

What was Amelia Right about? Well, Amelia Earhart wrote a book titled Flying is Fun. And Gene Nora has stories to prove that she was right... and they are in the Amelia Was Right book! I will order this book as well, and then make a point to go find Gene Nora for the autograph on those, too. I hear she hangs out at airports. I absolutely love The Fabulous Flight of the Three Musketeers, and I am sure the others will be as incredible.

Karlene and Gene Nora

This aviation community is small and filled with incredible people who are helping others to earn their wings, or gifting them the love of flight. Gene Nora is one such a woman. She has the heart and soul of an aviator with the passion for flight, and continues to share her love of flight with the world. And she will make you smile. Gift one of her books to yourself, and to those you want to share a bit of aviation history and your passion of flight with.  It was such an honor to meet Gene Nora! After you begin reading, you'll feel like you know her too!

 Flight For Sanity coming soon....
 Catch up on the series so you will be ready!

Motivation and Children too! 

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