Inspiration to pilots everywhere...
December 7, 1924 - February 10, 2018
Friday's Fabulous Flyer
I received an email yesterday that began... "On a number of occasions, we cite Beryl Markham as the iconic woman aviator as recounted in the book West With The Night. A friend of mine, Gary Jusela, brought Fran Bera to my attention as a notable woman aviator. Fran Bera died in April, 2018. Difference is no one has written the definitive book on her history. Karlene; do you do biographies?
What amazing accomplishments. If she had an affiliation with the Northwest, she would be a great nominee for Pathfinders. In any event, she is an inspiration for women who aspire to changing the percentage of professional women pilots from its current meager 5-7% (I believe)" Peter Morton
Peggy Chabrian added, "Fran was one of the first year members of Women in Aviation International, joining our organization in 1995, and attended our conference numerous times. She was also inducted into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame in 2006. San Diego is my hometown and so I would also see Fran when I returned for various visits. She was indeed a pioneer woman in aviation and a gracious lady who enjoyed sharing her love of flying with others.
Bruce McCaw stated, "I knew her for many years. A remarkable and capable lady who was so understated and humble. I admired her very much... She was on Friendship One and attended our reunions. Agree a book on her would be terrific!"
I too think a biography on Fran Bera would be a wonderful idea! Until that happens... I would like to introduce you to the amazing woman through a wonderful description of her life as written by the Smithsonian.
National Air and Space Museum
on Fran Bera:
"Frances Bera started flying in December, 1940 in Grand Rapids, Michigan while attending high school in the small town of Lake Odessa. She skipped school to take lessons and when it came time to solo in early 1941, her instructor informed her that she needed her parents' written permission since she was only 16. Fran had been taking lessons without their knowledge and was a little worried about having to explain her recent adventures. No one in the family had even been in an airplane. However, with her persuasive nature, they signed the papers and said "good luck, do it well." With this encouragement she has been flying continuously ever since.
Fran secured her Commercial license and Flight Instructor rating, became a free fall parachutist, ferried surplus aircraft after World War II, and continued her aviation education while working in the business as a flight instructor. She now holds an Airline Transport Pilot license and is rated in single and multi-engine land aircraft, single engine sea, helicopter, hot air balloon and is CE-500 (Cessna Citation) type rated.
She is a rated flight instructor for airplanes, instrument and rotor craft. In addition, she was one of the first women in the 1940s to be designated as a Federal Aviation Agency Pilot Examiner at the then minimum age of 24. She took the exam at 23, but when they discovered she was not yet 24, she was told to come back on her birthday for the certificate. She has been a designated Pilot Examiner for private, commercial, multi-engine and instrument for the FAA for more than 25 years during which time she has licensed 3,000 plus pilots and lost track of the number she soloed.
With more than 24,000 hours, Fran has been chief pilot for various aviation firms, charter pilot, flight operations manager and has owned and operated her own flight school and aircraft sales business. She was also an Experimental Test Pilot for the Lift Systems, Inc., who developed a new design in rotor craft with no tail rotor. In the 1960s, Fran became the first woman to fly a helicopter with no tail rotor.... Read more.
“It still fascinates me after 65 years of flying."
“And I’m still learning.”(2007)
Photos in this post came from the New York Times
It flies by too fast!