Thursday, March 09, 2017

Doing Women Proud

"As far as they're concerned, the fact that she was an incredible pilot, that's sufficient for them."
"The fact that she appeared in Nazi propaganda in the '30s and '40s, that doesn't seem to bother them too much."
Steven Slimovitch, legal counsel, B'nai Brith League for Human Rights

"Hanna Reitsch was the first woman to fly a helicopter, and this is why this year we decided we will have the team as helicopter."
"I'm not in favour of any war, of any people dying whether on the bad side or the good."
"I'm not promoting a Nazi. This is not the intention. The intention is to have a thousand girls fly free Saturday to experience the world of aviation. That's what we do. We promote women in aviation."
Marguerite Varin, organizer, Women of Aviation, Lachute, Quebec

"[Reitsch was a] great pilot [her] controversial part in political history [was simply irrelevant]."
Mireille Goyer, founder/president, Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide, Vancouver
German aviatrix Captain Hanna Reitsch is greeted by German chancellor Adolf Hitler after she was awarded the Iron Cross second class at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin, in April 1941, for her service in the development of airplane armament instruments during World War II. A beaming Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering looks on.
German aviatrix Captain Hanna Reitsch is greeted by German chancellor Adolf Hitler after she was awarded the Iron Cross second class at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin, in April 1941, for her service in the development of airplane armament instruments during World War II. A beaming Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering looks on.  (ASSOCIATED PRESS file photo)

Spotlight on women of accomplishment. In this particular instance, women and flight, pioneers of women's position in the history of flight, when women, long before the formal entry on the world stage of the phenomenon we know as "feminism", invested themselves with the determination to demonstrate that anything men could do, women could also do, and sometimes show the way. Enterprising women in a wide variety of occupations have distinguished themselves throughout the annals of history.

In this story about celebrating women piloting aircraft, the decision was made by those in charge of "Let's Swirl, 80 Years of Female Helicopter Pilots", highlighting those achievements, to select the first female helicopter pilot, a German woman by the name of Hanna Reitsch, identifying her as "Hanna Reitsch, first women to pilot a helicopter, 1937." Yet, it was this woman's helicopter flying exploits throughout the years of the Second World War that have stimulated debate.

In the years between 1939 to 1945, this helicopter pilot distinguished herself in other ways besides becoming a test pilot in her native country in 1937 when she flew a Fa61 helicopter. Later, during the war she became a Luftwaffe test pilot, favoured by Adolf Hitler. From him she received the award of the Iron Cross, for courage.

Much later, she came under fire by the Red Army, landing in central Berlin to complete a mission to fly the new Luftwaffe head, Robert Ritter von Greim to Hitler's bunker, in the final days of the war. Before flying out of Berlin she personally spent two days inside the bunker, becoming one of the last people to see Hitler before he committed suicide.

"We should all kneel down in reverence and prayer before the altar of the Fatherland", she told the Americans who later took her prisoner. When she was being interrogated, she spoke of her regret for not having died beside Hitler. 

This is the historical figure -- one of racist infamy in complete accord with her Fuhrer in his plans for the Third Reich and the Master Race, along with the extermination of the inferior race of Jews whose lives so infuriated Hitler that the Final Solution almost succeeded in absolute genocide -- whose exploit as the first helicopter pilot this group plans to introduce to aspiring young women.

Marguerite Varin, who made the choice to highlight this pioneering helicopter pilot and proud fascist who venerated Hitler and the Fatherland's plan of world conquest, complained that when two years earlier the choice of France's Marie Marvingt was made, it was never the subject of complaints of a woman who flew combat missions in 1917, to drop bombs on Germans.

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