Edith Lackner Biography-3
A Tribute to Mary Edith Lackner
Adapted from "Women of Ohio -- A Record of Their Achievements" (1938)
"Mary Edith Lackner, first Cincinnati woman to receive a private pilot’s license, met a tragic fate when because of an unexpected mechanical defect, her plane plunging to earth in a cornfield at Williamson, West Virginia, October 29, 1938. Famous flyers gathered in Cincinnati for her funeral services. They dropped flowers on her grave, in beautiful Spring Grove, as a tribute to one of the best friends, as well as one of the pluckiest women, it had been their privilege to know." Edith's death occurred just a year after the 1937 disappearance of friend Amelia Earhart.
Could she have chosen, would she have exchanged her career as flyer for the salvage of a safe old age? Who can say? But those who knew Edith Lackner well do not think so. Miss Lackner painted the walls of her “aviation” room at her home herself. On those walls hang maps, aviation insignia and pictures of different types of airplanes, including some of her own gleaming black Stinson ship in which she made a short trip, as a rule, three or four times weekly. They remember how she treasured, in a special drawer in her “aviation room”, a bit of fire wall taken from a plane of Amelia Earhart while it was undergoing reconstruction. With this memento of the world-famous woman flier who was her personal friend, Edith Lackner paid mute tribute to the qualities that she admired most — skill, endurance and the courage to accept fate, fame or fortune, whatever they may be.
Her early training in aviation was had at Cincinnati under Captain Stanley C. Huffman and Wright Yermilya, well-known in this country in the early days of aviation. That she came to know flying from the ground-up was evidenced by her unusual service during the 1937 flood, when she took newspaper reporters on inspection tours of the vast inland sea that was the Ohio River. On one of these tours her plane skidded in landing on a muddy field at Blue Ash, the only spot available. But not for a moment did the girl pilot lose her head. She lifted the ship just enough to clear a fence of brush and wire, then managed a second landing which brought passengers and pilot safely to terra firma.
Few knew that the young aviator extended charity in so many ways. For eight years after returning to Cincinnati from her schools in the East, Miss Lackner joined her mother in conducting Saturday morning classes at the Catholic Woman’s Club for almost 300 underprivileged girls. She gave part of her monthly allowance to help the under-privileged pay rents and buy food and clothing and more than one aviator temporarily down on his or her luck received aid at Miss Lackner ’s hands.
Not long before her death, Edith, or “Edie” as she was known to her countless friends, was elected national secretary of the “Ninety-Niners,” a nationwide organization of women aviators which takes its name from the number of charter members. Amelia Earhart was one of these charter members."