Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Godspeed Sally Ride

"There was nothing fungible about Sally Ride. When she climbed into Challenger on June 18, 1983 and the hatch was closed and sealed behind her, a far bigger cultural door opened — and every American woman who has flown a military plane or a commercial jet or a spacecraft since followed her through it.
Godspeed, Sally Ride." - Time Science




How fitting since today was my first T-34C flight.





Yours truly after surviving aileron rolls, barrel rolls, stalls, and wing overs. It was something I have wanted to do ever since I started my job here!

I would like to think that Sally Ride never intended for so much emphasis to be placed on the "first American woman in space". Deep down she was probably thrilled that her accomplishments warranted such a title. She was just doing her [awesome] job, challenging herself to continue an upward climb, literally to space! The shattering of gender stereotypes was just a side note.

I feel the same way. Unfortunately, it is usually women who unfairly stereotype themselves.

"I can't do that, I'm a girl."
"Pilots are always men, especially helicopter pilots."


You might be surprised to know that short women statistically have the highest G-loading tolerance. You better believe I was grunting like a man in that 4.5g wind-up turn, but I did not experience any tunnel vision. Yay! Short and female!

I have often been the only, or one of the few women in all of my aerospace related groups since college. It's just something you get used to, and after awhile, forget about.

Sally Ride was certainly an inspiration to many girls (this one included). There is no doubt I followed her through the cultural door she opened. I'm an aerospace engineer, and astronaut hopeful for pete's sake. She is one of many individuals that have motivated me over the years. She was crazy smart and willing to show girls that it only takes a little perseverance to break those glass ceilings. But most of all, she challenged herself, as a person, not a woman.

Indeed, Godspeed Sally Ride.