Who was the first ever deaf woman to fly a plane? Eleanor Zable was born in the Black Hills, South Dakota; on November 22, 1892.She became deaf at age two after being exposed to measles. After her mothers death she went to Sioux Falls, North Dakota for schooling; during that time she met her husband Dr. F. V. Willhite. Also while in Sioux Falls she worked at an airfield where she took her first flying lessons. After that she decided to enroll in South Dakota’s Aviation School, it ended up that she was the first ever female to be involved in the aviation program; as well as the first ever deaf woman to enroll. Her first flight took place on November 13, 1927 in her first plane named “Pard” after her father, whom bought it for her. The plane was an open-cockpit Alexander Eagkerock OX-5 biplane, which was popular plane for that time. She participated in town fairs, air shows, and races. But you might be thinking how could she tell if the engine is off or if some thing is wrong with the plane; well that easy because she could feel the vibrations in the engine. She worked as a commercial Pilate until she was fifty-two. She also was a charter member when the most known pilot Amelia Earhart was president. Nellie started the Sioux Falls chapter of the "Ninety-Nines." Right before she died, she was a part of the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. She passed away at a ninety-nine, on September 2, 1991.
Eleanor (Nellie) Zable Willhite
March 23, 2011