3rd - Ernie Viehweg, 8th - Bill Ulisky, 20 Bonnie Porter, 31st - David Lundell
8th - Marsha Robinson, 14th - Ro Bryant, 16th - Sherri Brower, 18th - Gary Auberry,
24th - Jeanie Shearer, 30th - Paul Kovac
This is from the National Aviation Hall of Fame web site for Betty's enshrinement in July, 2005. Read the bios and find out why she is "The First Lady of First".
Frankman, Betty Skelton
In 1959, she was asked to undergo numerous physical and psychological tests given to the original Mercury 7 astronauts. She landed on the cover of Look magazine, and, although she would have loved the chance, she never had any illusions that a woman would be selected for the Mercury program. Instead, she charmed the Mercury 7 astronauts with her vivacious personality and her impressive flight skills—so much so that they nicknamed her “7 1/2.”
- Established more combined aviation and automotive records than any other in history.
- Won the Feminine International Aerobatic Championship three times: 1948, 1949 and 1950.
- She became the first woman to perform an inverted ribbon cut only ten feet above the ground.
- In 1949 she set the world light plane altitude record in a Piper Cub - 25,763 ft.
- In 1951 she set the world light plane altitude record in a Piper Cub – 29,050 ft.
- World speed record for piston engine aircraft – P-51 racing plane over 3 km course at 421.6 mph.
- Underwent NASA’s physical and psychological tests given to the original seven astronauts; Betty’s tests were featured on a LOOK magazine cover story in 1960.
Betty Skelton was born in Pensacola, Florida, June 28, 1926 to David and Myrtle Skelton. During her early childhood years, she played with model airplanes, not dolls. Betty spent every moment of her spare time sitting on the back steps of her home watching the N3N Stearmans soaring overhead from the Pensacola Naval Air Station. At age eight, she convinced her parents that she wanted to fly and began reading every
aviation book she could find. The Skeltons drove her out to the municipal airport at every opportunity and Betty hopped rides whenever a pilot had a spare seat. A young Navy Ensign, Kenneth Wright, began teaching the entire family to fly.
Betty made her very first solo flight at the tender age of 12, when Wright let her take the controls of his Taylorcraft. She soloed legally on her 16th birthday and quickly earned her private license. At 17, she had acquired the flight hours to qualify for the WASP’s but it was disbanded before she reached the required age of 18 and a half. Nonetheless she wanted a career in aviation and began working as a clerk for
Eastern Airlines at night, leaving her days free to fly. She received her commercial rating at 18, and, in short order, her flight instructor and multi-engine ratings.
Frustrated over the prohibition of women from military aviation and commercial airline jobs in mid-1940s, she set out to find her own niche. When her father began planning an air show fundraiser for the local Jaycees, someone suggested that Betty fly some aerobatics. Her dad said, “She doesn’t know any.” But Betty was game and aerobatic pilot Clem Whittenback easily taught her a loop and a roll. Two weeks later she
gave her first public performance in a borrowed Fairchild PT-19. She then bought her own aircraft, a 1929 Great Lakes 2T1A biplane and began her professional aerobatic career in 1946.
Betty toured the southeastern air show circuit and became part of the legendary group of performers of the postwar era. She won her first International Feminine Aerobatic Champion on January 1, 1948 flying her Great Lakes.
It was there that she noticed a striking new little biplane, the Pitts Special S-1C. Skelton approached the owner who at first refused to let her fly the aircraft, let alone buy it, but she persisted and bought it in August 1948. It was an experimental single-seat open-cockpit biplane, the smallest aerobatic airplane in existence at the time. She said: “I didn’t just sit in that little airplane, I wore it. If I
sneezed, it sneezed with me.” She named the plane Little Stinker and gave it a brilliant red and white paint scheme. In it she became the first woman perform an inverted ribbon cut at ten feet above the ground.
Betty won her second and third consecutive International Feminine Aerobatic Championships in 1949 and 1950. By late 1950, Betty had achieved the highest marks in aerobatics but, with the barriers in place against women, she had little incentive to continue. She had also burned out on the busy and stressful air show scene. She sold Little Stinker.
She then moved to North Carolina where she eventually flew charter flights out of Raleigh. There she met Bill France, the founder of NASCAR, who talked her into driving at Daytona Beach during Speed Week. Not only did she drive the pace car at Daytona, she also set a stock car record. All of a sudden, Betty had a new career. As auto industry’s first female test driver, she guided “L’il Miss Dodge,” a jump boat,
over a 1955 Custom Royal Lancer on a ramp at Florida’s Cypress Gardens. In 1956, Betty became one of the a top women advertising executives working with the General Motors Company in print, television, and automobile demonstration. Betty earned a total of four Feminine World Land Speed Records and set a transcontinental speed record.
In 1959, she became the first woman to undergo many of the physical and psychological tests given to the original Mercury seven astronauts and chronicled by Look magazine.
Betty married TV director/producer and Navy veteran Donald A. Frankman in 1965. Betty and Donald reacquired her Pitts and later donated it to the National Air and Space Museum. It is now displayed in the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. Naturally it is suspended inverted. Don died in 2001. Betty remains active driving her Corvette and recently has been busy accepting honors for her achievements. She has
been inducted into the International Aerobatic Hall of Fame, the International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame, and the Corvette Hall of Fame. Throughout her life, Betty has served as a great ambassador for aviation and an inspiration for men and women alike. Each year the United States National Aerobatic Championships honor the highest placing female pilot with the” Betty Skelton First Lady of Aerobatics” award.
For more than half a century, Betty Skelton Frankman has been known as “the First Lady of Firsts.” In the process of setting 17 aviation and racecar records, she also paved the way for women to enjoy equal opportunities in aviation, sports, and business. Nearly 35 years after retiring, Betty still holds more combined aircraft and automotive records than anyone in history.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrines the “First Lady of Firsts,” Betty Skelton Frankman.
Even Faster Company by Dan Neil /RUMBLE SEAT
The new Corvette Z06 is an economics seminar on wheels. Begin with the idea of marginal utility. How much more useful is this 505-horsepower, 198-mph, carbon-bodied ballista compared with the 400-hp, l86-mph standard model? Is it worth the extra $20,000? That depends on your fondness of stainless-steel plumbing, orange jumpsuits and men who call you Susan.
But the notion of utility is not the same as use-value. As Adam Smith noted, utility includes emotional rewards, and these the performance-variant Z06 provides in heart-squeezing, tears-of-joy abundance.
Here is the Vette perfected, the hyper-amplified soul of the ultimate American sports car. Here are the honking, foot-wide rear tires and sick fender flares the stock car cries out for. Here are the outrageous 14 inch front-brake discs with red mono-block calipers the call-brand Crovette now seems denuded without. Here are the four-barrel grenade launchers - I mean, the 4-inch exhaust pipes - that Corvette owners would otherwise order out of a Borla catalog.
In the peculiar, secret-handshake world of Corvette enthusiasts, if you own a Z-6 you are a made man - excepting the highly unlikely event that you are a woman.
And yet one of the things that makes the Z-6 such a rich and perplexing experience is that it is, actually, a pretty useful car, in the Marxist use-value sense of the word. Name another car that goes nearly 200 mph and gets 26 miles per gallon on the highway. You can't fit Shakira's thong into the cargo space of a Ford GT or a Ferrari F430, while the Corvette Z06's 22-cubic-foot hatchback space can hold four sets of golf clubs (never mind that the car can only carry two people). The only
car to rival it in high-speed luggage transport in the Bentley Flying Spur.
And speaking of our friend Karl Marx: If you at all subscribe to the labor theory of value, the hand-built Z06 is one of the most utterly undervalued products on the planet. For starters, its LS7 engine is assembled by a single technician (I'm hoping he wears overalls with the word "Labor" on the back) at G's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Mich.
Unique to the Z06, the LS7 displaces 7.0 liters - a historically resonant 427 cubic inches - and is strapped with all manner of race-deprived sinew, including: titanium connecting rods and intake valves, sodium-filled exhaust valves, cast aluminum piston heads, CNC-ported aluminum heads with, apparently quite ridiculous airflow capacity and a dry-sump oiling system to keep the engine from starving itself during high-G maneuvering. This and much, much more, as they say on the Home Shopping
Network, makes the LS7 one of the best power plants built anywhere.
Once the engines are watch-worked together and tested, they get crated up and sent to the Covette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Ky., where they are married with similarly specialized A96 transaxles and chassis. The LS7 bolts to a high-load version of the six-speed ZF transaxle, with a heavy-duty clutch and stronger half-shafts.
It's here where the Z96 program distinguishes itself from other factory-tuner programs like BMW's M, Mercedes' AMG, Audi's S or even Subaru's STi shops, which are largely satisfied with monster motor and suspension upgrades. The Z06 gets a skeleton transplant: The steel chassis is replaced with a hydroformed aluminum structure. The floor pans and front fenders go from fiberglass to carbon composite, and the roof structure and engine cradle are cast or machined out of magnesium.
All this whittling brings the Z96 down to 3,147 pounds, or 141 pounds fewer than the standard-issue Vette.
Now, let's take a look at market equilibriums. The Z06 is substantially lighter than a Ferrari F430 or a Ford GT and virtually the same weight as a Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche Carrera FT. Of all the supercar parameters, weight - not horsepower - is the most expensive to optimize, and yet at $65,800 the lightweight Z06 is about $90,000 cheaper than the leat expensive of those cars, the Ford GT.
Somethings's happening here, and if the Z06 program managers say the car makes money for GM - well, that's fine, I'll play along. But if the same economics applies to some of GM's lower-priced cars, then the HHR would cost about $79.95.
Why haven't I mentioned the Dodge Viper? Because I hate that car.
The C6 - the sixth-generation Corcvette - Z06 if the most powerful, the quickest, and fastest Corvette in its 53-year history. It's the Super Bowl half-time show of torque. The boys at Car and Driver have managed to launch the coupe to 60 mph in a face-warping, guy-on-the-rocket-sled 3.4 seconds.
That sounds about right. Having spent a week in the car, I can tell you, the zero-to-60 dash is indeed diverting, but what's really interesting is what comes next: second gear. Because the LS7 redlines at 7,000 and peak output loiters at 6,300 rpm, when you shift from first to second, the clutch re-engages just as the falling tach needle sweeps over the point of maximum thrust. The feeling is like riding in the pocket of a Saunders Wrist-Rocket.
The Z06 is a performance-first car, and so I'm obliged to tell you that, yes, when you get on the gas, the vacuum-actuated valves in the normally sedate exhaust system tip open and the thing sounds like Cerberus going after the mailman. The car just tears away from you with the traction-control light on the instrument panel flshing spasmodically. Golly. In addition to its ferocious low-gear acceleration, the Z06 has truly deceptive intra-continental speed. It's nothing to look
down and see you're purring along at 150 mph. Just call me Susan.
So, it's fast. It's also got absurdly high cornering capacity and fantastic brakes. I wouldn't say it's the most confidence-inspiring super-car I've ever driven - still a little too much weight-transfer under braking for my taste - but the car's steering, throttle responses, shift throws and clutch are all nicely weighted and muscular. I can't abide a watery clutch.
The thing that I can't get over, however, is just how civilized this car is around town. Stick in second gear and leave it. It's got so much torque - so tidal in its inexorability - that the car pulls away from the light and motors on.
And when that rare, uncluttered freeway onramp presents itself, click your heels three times and you'll be in Kansas in no time. Leavenworth, maybe.
2006 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06
BASE PRICE $65,800
PRICE AS TESTED $69,995
POWERTRAIN: 7.0-LITER, 16-VALVE PUSHROD V-8; 6-SPEED MANUAL, REAR-WHEEL DRIVE
HORSEPOWER: 505 HP AT 6,300 RPM
TORQUE: 470 pounds-ft at 4,800 RPM
WEIGHT: 3,147 POUNDS
0-60 MPH : 3.4 SECONDS
WHEELBASE: 105.7 INCHES
OVERALL LENGTH :175.6 INCHES
EPA FUEL ECONOMY :16 MPG CITY, 26 MPG HWY
FINAL THOUGHTS: CARBON-FIBER CATAPULT