Did Helen Keller Fly a Plane.Despite being deaf and blind from a young age, Helen Keller is revered as a symbol of overcoming adversity. She was a remarkable person who triumphed over insurmountable odds to become a champion for the rights of people with disabilities and an inspiration to many. However, there’s been talk in recent years that she was also an early aviation pioneer, making the first female aeroplane flight in 1921. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the supporting evidence for this assertion to determine if it holds up.
Only one story from April 23, 1921, in the Los Angeles Times reports that Helen Keller took her maiden aeroplane ride that year. As described in the article “Helen Keller Flies in Plane; Deaf-Blind Girl Amazed by Trip Through Air,” pilot Frederick H. Pitcairn took Keller on a flight above Los Angeles. The story claims that Keller was “delighted with the sensation of flying” and spoke with the pilot using sign language.
The Los Angeles Times article is the sole modern source that says Keller took an aeroplane ride in 1921, however there are numerous that cast doubt on this assertion. For instance, Keller’s autobiography, “The Story of My Life,” was published in 1903, but it makes no reference to the journey. Dorothy Herrmann’s 1998 biography “Helen Keller: A Life” is another that fails to mention the trip.
In addition, the story from the Los Angeles Times contains various discrepancies and errors that make its credibility questionable. A prevalent phrase of the period, “deaf, dumb, and blind,” is used to describe Keller, despite the fact that Keller herself had previously spoken out against the inaccuracy of this label. Although the report indicates that Keller was “amazed” by the flight, it’s hard to believe that she would have felt awed by something she had never seen or heard before.
- Finally, no more images or news items from the time of Keller’s flight exist. It’s improbable that such a momentous occasion would have gone unnoticed in other newspapers, given her prominence at the time.
- There is no evidence to corroborate the idea that Keller flew in an aeroplane in 1921, according to the Helen Keller Foundation, which was formed in her honour following her death in 1968. The Foundation even hypothesises that Pitcairn, a famous aviation pioneer, may have made up the whole thing to gain attention.
- The historical setting of the moment should also be taken into account. Many people in the early 1920s hoped to become involved with aviation because of the excitement surrounding the new technology. It’s plausible that Pitcairn would embellish or manufacture a story about his time in the air with Helen Keller for publicity purposes.
- Even while it’s disheartening to learn that the narrative of Keller’s flight in 1921 was likely a fabrication, her legacy as a pioneer for disability rights and an inspiration to millions of people across the world lives on. Keller’s successes in overcoming her impairments and advocating for other people with disabilities are truly impressive and show what can be accomplished with hard work and commitment.
Did Helen Keller Fly a Plane.Helen Keller’s supposed aeroplane flight in 1921, based on the data we have, seems highly improbable. The story presented in the Los Angeles Times piece is intriguing, but it is marred by too many factual errors to be believed at face value. The article was probably either overstating its case or completely made up.
However, it should be noted that Keller did take several flights in his later life and had a real interest in aviation. She soared to the skies with Amelia Earhart in a Ford Trimotor in 1932 and a United Airlines DC-6 in 1946. The Los Angeles Times may have exaggerated the significance of Keller’s 1921 journey, but her other flights are nonetheless inspiring examples of her courage and tenacity.