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The Lady and the Gull

11 Sep 1936, Berkshire, England, UK
Pilot Beryl Markham,
posing for photographer at Abingdon Aerodrome, Berkshire,
prior to take off for her solo flight across the Atlantic.
When Markham decided to take on the Atlantic crossing, no pilot had yet flown non-stop from Europe to New York, and no woman had made the westward flight solo, though several had died trying. Markham hoped to claim both records. On 4 September 1936, she took off from Abingdon, England. After a 20-hour flight, her Vega Gull, The Messenger, suffered fuel starvation due to icing of the fuel tank vents, and she crash-landed at Baleine Cove on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada (her flight was, in all likelihood, almost identical in length to Mollison’s). In spite of falling short of her goal, Markham had become the first woman to cross the Atlantic east-to-west solo, and the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop from east to west. She was celebrated as an aviation pioneer.


Space Suit

Spanish Colonel Don Emilio Herrera Linares designed and built a full pressure suit (escafandra estratonautica) in 1935, which was to have been used during an open-basket balloon stratospheric flight scheduled for early 1936.

The Spanish Civil War intervened. Herrera chose the Republican side, and the rubberized silk suit was cannibalized to make rain ponchos for Republican troops. In 1939 he fled to France, where he died in exile in 1967.
Herrera’s suit featured an inner airtight garment (tested in the bathtub in his flat in Seville), covered by an accordion-like, pleated and jointed metallic frame. Joints were made for the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees and the fingers. When tested at Cuatro Vientos Experimental Station, the suit’s pressurized mobility was found to be “thoroughly satisfactory”, according to its inventor. If this was he case, it means that he solved one of the main problems of pressure suit design decades before B F Goodrich or David Clark!