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Edith Lackner Biography-1

Pioneering Ohio Aviatrix - Friend of Amelia Earhart

Mary Edith Lackner was a pioneering Ohio aviatrix whose life ended tragically in a fatal airplane crash -- a person, like the mythical Icarus, who died learning how to fly.  Edith (1898 - 1938) was the only child of a wealthy, socially prominent Cincinnati family; in 1935 - swept up in the national fervor over Lindbergh and the birth of private aviation - decided to take up flying. She became the first Ohio female pilot with a commercial "transport license" in June 1935, and soon became Chairman of the Southern Ohio "Ninety-Nines" (the first women's pilots organization, founded in 1929 by Amelia Earhart). In 1937, she was elected National Secretary for the Ninety-Nines; Amelia and Edith together attended many local and national meetings

After obtaining her license, Edith began both organizing airplane races and competing in them. Her family purchased a top-of-the-line Stinson Reliant plane for Edith in late 1935, at a cost of $6,000 (about $110,000 in 2019). In October 1935, she had her first accident, when the fabric on her Stinson monoplane tore loose during an air race; she and her co-pilot were not injured. In January 1937, she crashed in Kentucky while surveying the flooded Ohio River; Edith and three reporters were unhurt.

In 1937 that Edith was given a Longines Weems Second-Setting watch -- a navigation timepiece specifically designed for pilots to synchronize their watches with an accurate radio signal. ("Any error in navigation— even if it was as little as 30 seconds off—could put the pilot off course by as much as 7 miles.") It was beautifully engraved, "M. Edith Lackner ~ Cincinnati ~ Ohio".

Edith had taken advanced lessons in "flying by instrument", rather than relying on visual observation. On Oct 29, 1938, she was flying home from one of her regular Ninety-Nines meetings in Cleveland, using only her instruments. Unfortunately, she wandered over 200 miles off-course, and had a fatal crash landing near Williamson, WV.  Her pioneering courage and untimely death was mourned by her fellow aviators. 

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