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The Ladies


Bea on Columbia


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Jerrie Cobb Bernice Steadman Janey Hart Jerri Truhill Rhea Woltman Sarah Ratley
Jan & Marion Dietrich Myrtle Cagle Irene Leverton Gene Nora Jessen Jean Hixson Wally Funk

Bea Steadman

Bernice "Bea" Steadman

A veteran of many Air Races, Bea began flying at an early age, earning her Private Pilot's License at age 17, and her Commercial Pilot's License in 1946. It was onward and upward from there! Bea started and operated her own flight school, charter service and FBO at Flint (Michigan) Bishop Airport where she trained pilots, flew chartered flights and sold aircraft. She currently possesses the highest FAA license, the Airline Transport Pilot license and also taught Reserve Air Force pilots after WWII.

As a member of the prestigious women's flying group, the International Ninety Nines (created by Amelia Earhart and other women aviation pioneers), she was elected President by her peers in 1968 - quite an accomplishment in and of itself.

A participant in many Air Races, she has won the Transcontinental Air Race (the Powder Puff Derby which dates back to 1929), and the International Air Race - and she organized the Michigan SMALL Race.

In 1961, this great aviator was invited to Albuquerque, NM along with Jerri Truhill to participate in the same tests Jerrie Cobb had just finished. She ultimately did so well she ended up in the group of 13 finalists testing to be an astronaut, now known as the Mercury 13. These were the exact same tests the Mercury 7 men had participated in - and, it was generally agreed by Dr. Lovelace and Dr. Kilgore that the women had better performed better than the men!

Although not actively flying today, Bea remains active in many aviation organizations and is quite sought after as a speaker for related talks. Bea was President of the International Women's Air and Space Museum and now serves as Chairman of the Board for the organization. She is also active in campaigning for a flight for Jerrie Cobb.

"Tethered Mercury"
Bea Steadman's Story

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