A documentary 'Spéirbhean Acla’ on Mayo Woman Nancy Corrigan pionner aviator is air on TG4 on January 6th 2015, Oíche Nollag na mBan (Women’s Christmas) at 2130 on TG4.
Nancy Corrigan - Spéirbhean Acla is a feel-good story, full of woman’s heart, about a girl who emigrated from poverty in Achill in 1929. Not content to be a maid for the rest of her life, Nancy set her sights high. The film shows how Nancy arrived in Cleveland, Ohio when the National Air Races were on. A seed was planted. Nancy was to become one of the first women pilots, training male fighter pilots during WWII, and enjoying a career in modelling which financed her aviation ambitions. The programme includes unique original footage of Nancy competing in the Cleveland Air Races in 1948.
The film begins with stunning footage of the Greenway between Mulranny and Achill Sound where Nancy was born, in the village of Owenduff, in the parish of Achill. Her father, a railway servant when the Greenway was a railway, was killed tragically in a train accident leaving his wife Maggie a poor widow with four young daughters. It traces Nancy’s story from poverty in Achill in the 1920s to Cleveland where she found work as a nanny.
Unbeknownst to her family, still only 19, Nancy began to take flying lessons. In 1932, after breaking a world record for flying solo in 4.45 hours, Nancy hit the headlines of Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper. The secret was out, her mother was stunned, and now all eyes were on her. To fund further flying lessons, Nancy moved to New York and began modelling for the prestigious Powers Agency which had a number of Hollywood starlets on their books.
Modelling was always a means to an end and when the war broke out, Nancy obtained a position with Spartan College instructing male cadets flying skills during WWII. In 1944, she joined the Aviation Faculty of Stephen’s College Missouri, an elite woman’s college and it was during her tenure here that she fulfilled her ambition of taking part in the Kendal Trophy Air Race. For this she mounted an impressive PR campaign through which she received financial backing.
In 1950, she was headhunted to Kansas University to become the first woman appointed to head up their aviation department. Throughout the course of her career, Nancy obtained virtually every aviation certificate known at the time.
Interviews include: Pilot Bill Witt, who was trained by Nancy; Nan Gaylord, pilot and former Powers model; Kim Jones, aviation historian in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
For further information contact Eimear Healy 087 4162248
Issued by Irish Aviation Research Institute © 7th December 2014 All Rights Reserved.
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