InTrans / Oct 05, 2012

Discovering your sparkle: Heather Taylor

Go! Magazine

Jet in setting sun

posted on October 5, 2012

What is the most inspiring aspect of the First Women’s National Air Derby and the 20 aviatrixes like Amelia Earhart, Ruth Elder, Bobbi Trout, and Phoebe Omlie, who were a part of the derby? Was it their aerial feats, the fact that they broke records or that they wanted to do even greater things like explore space?

According to Heather Taylor, an independent film producer, it might be something entirely different — it could well be the way they worked together to advance in their careers and succeed in the derby.

Heather Taylor in a Monocoupe
Heather Taylor in a Monocoupe. Photo courtesy of Heather Taylor

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Heather about her documentary film Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby, and the work she has done to promote the advancement of women past, present, and future.

During that talk, Heather shared her thoughts on why the women of the Derby were so successful: “It was a supportive environment and I think one of the reasons that happened is because they [the aviatrixes] all really cared about what they were doing and about aviation and they were having fun. They weren’t doing it for their egos or to be famous. They were doing it because that’s what fulfilled them and [that’s] what they enjoyed and as a result they were able to support one another because they had a common interest, a common love.”

Breaking Through the Clouds cover art
Breaking Through the Clouds cover art. Courtesy of Heather Taylor

The documentary film

Heather’s documentary film, Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby has won several awards and has received the Combs Gates award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame securing a place in history for the women of the Derby. Included in the women of the derby is Iowa’s own Phoebe Omlie.

Learning to sparkle

What I found most inspiring about Heather is her wanting to help women find their “sparkle.” Heather believes that there are certain things in life that lift us up and make us sparkle, which is what initially drew her to the women of the Derby. I was moved by Heather’s future plans to host a “…festival of sorts where we support the feminine.”

In today’s culture where we have the women of Jersey Shore and the Kardashians to keep up with, it’s refreshing to talk to another person who wants to find a place for women to support and respect one another. My conversation with Heather definitely made me sparkle, and her film has provided us with a glimpse into the lives of 20 women who found the things that made them shine.

By Alex Werner, Go! Staff Writer

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