Friday, July 26, 2013

Lady Heath Meets the President

After the hostile reaction to her attempts to fly with KLM left her reeling, Lady Heath turned her attention to the USA, where a major International Aeronautical Congress was planned for Washington to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Wright brothers' pioneering flight at Kitty Hawk.  
Delegates were invited from all over the world among them Lady Heath who was representing the Air League of the British Empire and was the only woman delegate (although four women feature in the image above). 
The delegates were treated exceptionally well. Before travelling to Washington for the congress,  they were flown from Cleveland to Chicago for the  Chicago International Aeronautic Exposition; Sophie's old Avro Avian G-EBUG was one of the displays.  After Chicago, the delegates stopped in Dayton, Ohio, where they toured the U.S. Army Air Corps Material Division laboratories and visited Wright Field at Kitty Hawk before attending a dinner given by the City of Dayton honoring its favorite sons, the Wrights. They then traveled by train to Washington on December 11 in time to sign on the the congress whcih was due to begin the next day.  
The packed programme continued unabated after US President Calvin Coolidge officially opened the Congress. On  Wednesday December 12, after a day 's discussion of international air transport, the delegates were presented to the president at the White House. Among those present were Orville Wright and Charles Lindbergh. Next day the topic to be discussed was airway development, including meteorology and communications followed by a visit to the House  of Representatives. 
On December 14, discussions on foreign trade in aircraft and engines were followed by a lavish banquet. On the morning of Saturday December 15, delegates were treated to aerial displays at Bolling Field and Anacostia Naval Air Station by army air corps, navy, and Marine Corps fliers. In the afternoon, they toured the Bureau of Standards laboratories before boarding the steamship District of Columbia to sail to Norfolk, Virginia, where they arrived Sunday morning. 
The 220 delegates on board next toured NACA's nearby Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratories, where they witnessed demonstrations of Langley's unique wind tunnels. After group photographs, they returned to Norfolk, spending the evening on the steamer.
It had been a packed week. 

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