Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Berta Zeron - Pioneer Women in Aviation: A-Z Challenge


Berta Zeron (1924-2000)

Berta Zeron was the first woman in Mexico to earn a commercial pilot's license and the first woman to pilot a jet airplane. She logged over 10,000 hours flight time. You might say she was Mexico's Amelia Earhart.

Berta Zeron was born in Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico, but learned to speak English at the age of eleven in Hawaii where her father had enrolled her in school for two years. On the return voyage home by ship, she discovered an airplane on board that had been flown by Amelia Earhart. The memory stuck with her and later became her inspiration to fly.

Berta finished high school in Mexico, and being bilingual, found jobs with different companies, one at the Benito Juarez International Airport. An airline pilot offered her a ride but she turned the offer down, a choice that bothered her a lot later. More jobs would follow and several years would pass before she could seriously consider becoming a pilot. In 1947 she applied for a permit to fly and had her first official flight, but it would be 1964 before soloing in a Cessna 170. With the owner Capitan Francisco Lopez's support, lessons were 100 pesos an hour and apparently, affordable. (Cost is a common drawback to getting  a pilot's license, even today). Berta received her private pilot's license in 1965 and logged 200 hours in Lopez's plane that same year. 

Berta and the Cessna 170
She went on to learn night and instrument flying skills and how to fly twin engine planes. Logging 282 flying hours in a Beechcraft Baron 55 and a PT-17 Stearman for aerobatics, she earned her commercial aviator license in 1966. She then taught others how to fly in Cessna 150s. Berta also took up parachute jumping and entered an air race in a Cessna 150, taking third place. More races followed, the largest being the (women's only) Powder Puff Derby in the U.S. (1969), where she flew a Mooney.

A Beechcraft Baron 55

A PT-17 Stearman
The Cessna 150 - Berta taught others how to fly.
The Mooney. Plane flown in Powder Puff Derby
Berta went on to fly several more planes, working for Commander Mexicana as the executive pilot and flight instructor. She flew a Commander Lark, the Commander Shrike twins, Douglas DC-3 and Beechcraft Twin Bonanza.

The Commander Lark
The Commander Shrike Twins
The Douglas DC-3
The Beechcraft Twin Bonanza
Berta continued her training, obtaining an Unlimited Public Transport Pilot License next, the first of its kind given to a woman in Mexico, and was awarded the 'Emilio Carranza' medal. This allowed her to fly executive jets at Commander Mexicana: the Rockwell Sabreliners and the Sabre 40 (XA-APD (as first officer). She became the first woman to achieve this rank flying an executive jet. Some planes flown during this period:


Turbo Commander 680 (and Turbo Commander 681)
Rockwell Sabreliner
Sabre 40
Berta really wanted to work for a commercial airline. She quit Commander Mexicana, and believing she had the right credentials, applied to a commercial airline, but was rejected based on her age. Had she been hired, she would have been the first woman pilot in Mexico to fly for a commercial airline. Undaunted by it all, it would seem, she received more training in 1982, flew a C-182, and won first place in a Mexican air race. By then she was 58. Over her lifetime Berta piloted 46 airplanes and jets, participated in 8 air races, and jumped in 2 parachute championships. If ever there was a Mexican Amelia Earhart, it had to be Berta Zeron. 

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berta_Zer%C3%B3n
(only source found in English)

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Still swimming everyone?


CONGRATULATIONS!! 
You made it through the April A-Z Challenge!!!



As this is my final post in the series, I want to say THANK YOU TO EVERYONE from the bottom of my heart for stopping by to read Pioneer Women in Aviation, even if you could only read one or two posts (I know that most were l-o-n-g).

I leave you with a song by Eizaveta Icarus from the Miss Todd film soundtrack (a story based on the life of E. Lillian Todd). If you missed Miss Todd, you can click on "T for E. Lillian Todd" to watch (13min). The film is delightful and won the 2013 Academy Awards Gold Medal for best foreign film.

Bye for now......






34 comments:

  1. A wonderful post and a wonderful A to Z from you Sharon,
    Most wonderful to read.
    Congrats on completing the Challenge.
    Yvonne.

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  2. And it's a rap! I'm coming back to visit some of these posts and I've sent the links to my husband. I think he'll enjoy reading the stories of women in aviation. He's a pilot.

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    1. Yes oh yes, we are done!! Hope hubby enjoys:)

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  3. Woo hoo, Sharon! I've really enjoyed these. You did an amazing job.

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    1. Yippity skippity! Thanks for all your visits!

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  4. Great way to end with this amazing Mexican woman Sharon thank you! I've got some catching up to do on a few of your previous posts and I look forward to that when time permits. And as I said in a previous post I will be forwarding on your series to my US friend who built in his own aircraft in the 70's and 80's ..

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    1. Wow. Sure hope they enjoy. So glad you did the a-z again this year!

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  5. Another great woman. You've introduced us to some amazing female aviators in the past month! Great job!!!

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    1. Pretty enlightening for me too. Thanks!!

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  6. Congrats, Sharon! Great job on the A-to-Z!

    One question is burning in my brain: do YOU fly??

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    1. No.....just as hubby's white-knuckled passenger!

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  7. I love the smile on her face; you can see the passion she had for flying in it! She achieved a lot even though she never got to fly a commercial airliner!

    I did enjoy the posts I read through the month. You did a lot of research and organization with your theme! Well done!

    Congrats on finishing and finishing so well!

    betty

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    1. Thank you!
      Berta flew more planes than any in the series. Pretty impressive.

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  8. I love pics of old planes. I went to am areonautical museum in Kalamazoo Michigan last year. Really cool planes from all eras there.

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    1. Kind of figured guys would like seeing more planes :)

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  9. Wow, she was impressive. I didn't realize one could be too old to fly. Age discrimination in the workplace, eh?

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    1. I don"t think she had trouble finding work elsewhere.

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  10. Another inspiring story :-) I've truly enjoyed reading about the women you've featured, and congratulations on finishing the A-Z challenge!! A side note: I smiled when I read Berta was from Pachuca in MX--my daughter taught school there one year, and we were able to visit her while she was there. So I saw the town where Bertha was born :-) And btw I did read your X post and the haiku you wrote--great job!

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    1. A nice coincidence your daughter there! I have never been farther than Tiajuana.

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  11. What a great story that she never gave up and kept learning...like all the others and we could learn from these wonderful ladies. Congrats on a wonderful A to Z. I really enjoyed reading these.

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    1. I enjoyed telling their stories. But time for a break. Done!!

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  12. A great way to close out your series! Congrats on finishing A to Z.

    Yvonne V

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  13. I really enjoyed your theme. I'll be back to catch up on the ones I missed. I got my private pilot's license back in 1984 and flew a single engine Cessna 152 for a few years for fun. It was amazing. Loved the music video! Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Another pilot :) That's cool! Hubby got his in a Cessna 152 too and we flew in one often. Thanks, Lori!

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  14. Brenda sounds awesome. A real inspiration. You must have put quite a lot into your research. You have enough material to compile a book on female aviators.

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    1. I would love to do a book :) Thanks!

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  15. I did not participate in the A to Z this year. Thanks for joining my site!

    Your posts on Women in Aviation were impressive! Like Loril above, I must go back read some of the others.

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    1. So glad you could visit Susan. Thanks! The a-z gets pretty intense toward the end. Yes, LOTS of research!

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  16. Really liked that video :-)
    I know I'm coming late to this. I'm still trying to catch up with the last posts of the chellenge.
    Yours was a very good one. I enjoyed it a lot.
    Well done :-)

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm like you. It was hard keeping up with other blogs. I loved learning about jazz at yours---which was so well written :)

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  17. Interesting post and a very unique topic for the A-Z Challenge! Congratulations on completing it!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by late! I'm impressed with the a-z energy that continues in the aftermath.

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