Entering a Man's Field (04:21)
Born in 1951, Lynn Rippelmeyer grew up on a farm when women were expected to get married and stay home. She was denied entry into a college aviation class, instead becoming a flight attendant. She describes sexism by airlines and harassment from pilots.
Learning to Fly (02:28)
Women won voter's rights in 1920, but equal rights were not obtained. Rippelmeyer recalls being told females could not handle stresses of aircraft navigation. She took flying lesson from friends with a sea plane; by 1976, she spent all her leisure time flying small craft.
Fighting for Equality (06:13)
Zoe Nicholson was introduced to activism at graduate school. She opened a Women's bookstore in Newport Beach that became a meeting place for the feminist movement. Author and activist Sonia Johnson worked for approval of the Equal Rights Amendment; given a deadline to turn states, the women organized a fast.
Making History (07:02)
Rippelmeyer describes her application and hire at Air Illinois where she trained with Emily Jones. On December 30th, 1977, they became the first all-female crew piloting a scheduled flight. On July 7th, 1980, she was the first woman to captain a 747 and in 1984, the first to captain a jumbo jet across Atlantic.
Fasting for Freedom (07:50)
Nicholson and Johnson planned a hunger strike at the Illinois State Capitol. She discusses the 37 day fast, participants' deteriorating health, and her mentor's hospitalization; she recalls opposition and receiving death threats. The Equal Rights Amendment failed in congress, devastating the protesters.
Tracking a Role Model (02:53)
Rippelmeyer examines Federal Aviation Administration records at Illinois Department of Transportation. Tracing Jones by name and piloting qualifications, she finds a promising lead. The department bureau chief reaches out to administration contacts for additional contact information.
Mentoring Voice (03:12)
Nicholson meets with a gender and feminist studies professor at California State University, obtaining a 2010 interview of Johnson addressing the hunger strike. She listens to the recording, learning that her role model lived in an Alabama women's community; Kathryn Sorrells relays the address.
Finding Emily Jones (03:04)
The Illinois Department of Transportation emails Rippelmeyer with a lead, forwarding contact information for Jones' former coworker Mike O'Brien. He views a photo, confirming her mentor's identity; he gives her a phone number obtained from old records.
Women's Community (03:12)
Nicholson travels to rural Alabama and meets with resident, Rand Hall. They discuss being inspired by Johnson. The activist left the compound in 2011; Hall promises to help find Johnson.
Reconnecting With the Captain (05:32)
Rippelmeyer and Jones reunite at Museum of Flying in Santa Monica; they reminisce about their historical flight. Rippelmeyer thanks her role model, who relays her personal and career history. There are now more than 8,000 female commercial pilots.
Seeing Change in Women's Rights (06:30)
Nicholson meets Johnson in Tennessee; they discuss the hunger strike and Ripplemeyer explains how her role model inspired bravery and integrity. After the fast, the mentor retreated from public, changing her name. They inspired a new wave of feminists; on May 30th, 2018, the Equal Rights Amendment was ratified.
Credits: The Fight for Women's Rights (00:29)
Credits: The Fight for Women's Rights
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