Beverley Bass, the first female pilot to be promoted to Captain on American Airlines, has written a picture-book autobiography for children!
Beverly Bass’s story is an inspiration one, even though she never set out to be an inspiration. A native of Fort Myers, Florida, Bass, around the age of nine or ten, Bass saw a sign offering plane rides and set about raising the money. However, her aunt was staunchly against this and forbade her to go up into the air.
However, her urge to fly stayed inside her. After graduating high school in 1970, Bass went to study Spanish and Interior Design at Texas Christian University. After her first year at university, it was 1971 and Bass began to learn how to fly.
According to her logs, she spent an astonishing six hours at the Fort Worth meacham airport each afternoon from 3-9pm each weekday.
One day, when Bass “had 300 hours of flight time,” she was asked to fly the body of a young woman to Arkansas for a mortician. Since 500 hours were required by the mortician’s insurance, the mortician had to secure a waive. He did, and Bass flew a single-engine Bonanza, an aircraft so small she had to step over the corpse to climb into the cockpit.
“I was responsible for everything in that plane, and it felt so empowering,” Bass later recalled, “I loved every minute.”
Bass received a bachelor’s degree in May 1974. Two years later she moved to Dallas’ Love Field to fly canceled checks for banks, Fotomat film, and airplane parts, in order to build up more flight hours.
Frontier Airlines had hired its first female pilot in 1973, and she wanted to be the next one.
But her day at Frontier Airlines wouldn’t come. Instead, come 1976, she landed an interview with American Airlines, nailed the simulator portion, passed the questioning process with flying colors, and at twenty-four she was American Airline‘s third female pilot.
Come October 1986 bass had risen through the ranks to become American Airlines’ first female captain. Quickly afterwards, Bass made international headlines when she led the first all-female crew in aviation history on a flight from Washington, D.C., to Dallas, Texas.
Since then, Bass has been portrayed in the play Come from Away, a Canadian musical written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein.
Set in the week following the September 11th attacks, the musical tells how Bass and thirty-seven other planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon.
Lost, abandoned, 7,000 stranded travelers found hope when the residents of Gander housed and fed them.
The play was first produced at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, in 2013, but went on to have record-breaking runs at California’s La Jolla Playhouse and the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2015 and at Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre and Toronto’s Royale Alexandra Theatre.
In October 2018, it became the longest-running Canadian musical in Broadway history, surpassing The Drowsy Chaperone‘s previous record of 674 performances.
Now, the real-life Beverly Bass, having since then retired, is set to published a book on September 10th about her life entitled Me and the Sky: Beverely Bass, Pioneering Pilot.
Co-authored by Cynthia Williams and illustrated by Joanie Stone, the book is geared toward readers ages 4-8. The book will explore Bass’ amazing life and tell of how “she went from an ambitious young girl gazing up at the sky to a groundbreaking pilot smiling down from the cockpit.”
Hopeful this gets many young readers believing that they can reach their dreams, no matter how high they might seem!
Featured Image Via Youtube: The Story of Beverly Bass