Women and Science

Bowman, Martie | Calendar for 1936 depicting pilot Martie Bowman in her WACO INF biplane.

  • A remarkable piece of early aviation ephemera, this calendar was produced as a Christmas greeting by the early female aviator Marguerite (Martie) Bowman (1901-1985) and her husband Leslie, also a pilot. It depicts Bowman flying in her WACO INF biplane, registration number NC625Y, in formation with two others, and includes portraits of Bowman, her husband, and their daughter Larnie Bowman Allen. We have learned from one of the Bowmans’ grandchildren that Larnie joined the family profession, becoming a wing-walker at eight and soloing at twelve.

    The Bowmans established an aviation business together and, during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Martie Bowman ferried planes from factories and regularly participated in air races. She competed in the 1930 Women’s Dixie Air Derby from Washington D. C. to Chicago, and won the Women’s International Air Derby of 1934 and the two-day women’s championship Shell Trophy Cup at Long Beach, California. In her biography of fellow pilot Phoebie Omlie, Janann Sherman recounts that during the Dixie Derby Bowman selflessly assisted Omlie, who had an injury, by waking up each hour during the night to apply medicated drops to her eyes (Sherman, Walking on Air, p. 65).

    The Bowman’s papers are held at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and as of 2001 two of Martie Bowman’s planes were still registered as flight-worthy with the FAA.

  • [Olympia, WA], 1935.

    Silver gelatin composite photograph (250 x 200 mm) with small tear-off monthly calendar for 1936. Inscribed “Merry Christmas, The Bowmans”. A few minor nicks and spots at the edges. Excellent, unused condition.