June Douglas and Angel Derby

Wednesday, May 19, 1965

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

From card catalog: June Douglas, spokeswoman for "Angel Derby" flyers (group of aviatrixes in air race), argues for the hiring of women as co-pilots and flight engineers. Questions and answers.

Merrill Mueller introduces the program, the members of the "Angel Derby." Explains the flight: 68 women pilots who will participate in the international air race from New York to Nassau in the Bahamas.

Douglas, a stock broker, acts as spokeswoman for the pilots. Makes an argument for the hiring of women as co-pilots and flight engineers. Hypothesizes that airplane companies won't hire women as pilots because it will double the cost of hotels for pilots.

Mueller makes a joke that maybe they won't hire women as pilots because what would happen if a stewardess wants to take a smoke break and there's already a woman in the cockpit.

Questions: Do the airlines have an official rule regarding women as pilots? (answered by Edna White) 30 years ago there was a problem when a passenger saw a woman in the cockpit. At the present time, it's company policy but perhaps not in writing. Applications get sidelined. Women were flying B-17s in WW2, not in combat? They were ferrying them from point to point. A woman pilot and copilot, no man in the plane. What's the attraction to a woman of being an airline pilot? Salary. Are women captains in Russia? (answered by Edna White) She has met the captain of a British Airlines flight, with a male copilot. Russians uses women actively as pilots, in combat and commercially. Anyone aspire to be an astronaut? Two volunteers, but they don't speak. Would a female pilot prejudice herself? (answered by Edna White) Example of females who choose to go to female doctors. Sex has nothing to do with learning, strictly background, training, childhood, and rearing that makes a good pilot. Are they good swimmers - it's a long flight? (?) Regarding June's point that the airline would have to buy two hotel rooms for the man and the woman pilot? The solution is to put two women in the cockpit, then. At what age can women get pilots licenses? (answered by Pat McEwan) 16 solo. (?) off mic. License at 17, solo at 16. Teenagers of both sexes have done that. Risk a poll of female passengers regarding the sex? (answered by Miriam Davis) yes, their experience has been that passengers, male and female, are safe. A study made on the accident rates of male vs female in automobile or plane? (Davis again)They haven't had any accidents yet. Mueller reiterates the study question: "the answer is no." Details of the race and its handicapping? All different kinds of airplanes, handicapped according to horsepower and performance. Do they fly in stockings, flat foot, or high heels? Barefoot, sneakers... Do they wear bikinis? Have there been any casualties? No. Maybe there was a small accident, but the lady involved was not in the race; it was after the race. Difference between the Angel Derby and the Powderpuff Derby? Route. Would pressurization in the jet cause a problem for female pilots? No. Safety factors over the sea for the race? (Lee Winfield answers) Coast Guard, two-way radios.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70946
Municipal archives id: T673

Hosted by:

Merrill Mueller


June Douglas, Pat McEwan, Edna White and Lee Winnfiled


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About Overseas Press Club

Comprised of both speeches and question-answer sessions, this news program brings together foreign correspondents and public figures from culture and politics.

The Overseas Press Club (1940-1967) contains voices from the past that help us understand their time and place in history. What sets these talks apart from others like them is the presence of a live audience of foreign correspondents — reporters with international perspectives and questions. The resulting sessions have a distinctly different dynamic than would those with an audience of American journalists of the period.

Speakers include the German writer Günter Grass talking about his fascination with American prize fighters; a fiery young LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) telling his audience "where it’s at with Mr. Charlie"; James Farmer on the civil rights movement and where it should be going; David Halberstam on the trials of covering the war in Vietnam; Josephine Baker on the focus of her later years, her adopted children; and Herman Kahn on being pushed to the nuclear edge.  Other notable speakers include the actor Alec Guinness, Richard Nixon, and a gaggle of early female pilots competing in the air race known as the Angel Derby. 

With presentations ranging from rambunctious and spirited to contentious and political, this collection provides invaluable access to the language and nomenclature of America's burgeoning global culture.


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