What were the motivations behind this change?
I spent most of my life teaching flappers to fly. I loved that they were not afraid, that they used all the skills that modern pilots had learned in the cockpit. They used the wind, they used their body. And I loved that they did not give in to the pressure of the modern world, because it was too much to handle. They did not need that pressure, because they knew they could soar when they knew how. The most important things to me about flappers were their attitudes. And the first attitude that I taught them was: “I am not an island, I am the world.”
In your recent book, You are Here: An Illustrated Guide to Love and Purpose, you write that “when in the flapper class they were singing, ‘we never forget to remember to love,’ and a flapper’s message to me was loud and clear,” especially when flying on a high-altitude instrument flight. How did you know when to switch up the music?
It was not easy at first. I knew that the music was going to have to have a certain level. If the music is too heavy, the flapper will not like it. If it’s too loud, the flapper will not like it. For example, in the book you see one flapper on the flight deck, and the wind was blowing too hard. One of the girls heard her voice. She said, “Let me play one of the pieces, too, just this once.” So they put a piece of music in the air, played it. Then everybody got very quiet. Everyone realized what they had just heard. You can feel when this happened in the flapper class. It is so sudden. I did not even put my fingers on the buttons. I was a little nervous at first, and then I figured out what to do.
You also write that in the mid-1960s, flapper kids “started showing up in my classes for special treatment. It didn’t seem practical or even fair to say that flappers had been forgotten.” How did you react to that?
You were saying that, and I agree. I was angry about the way those children were disappearing into the ocean. I felt that the government needed to do something about flappers. And that was my main motivation, to get the program off the boat and get some young men and women to follow the example of the women, to leave this industry and go to