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Katherine Stinson set out to become a pilot simply to finance her piano education. By the summer of 1912, however, when she finally received her pilot's license, interest in the piano waned compared with her passion for aviation. Said by some to be the first woman pilot to ever "loop the loop," she went her fellow aviators one better in 1915 when she invented the "dippy twist loop," a maneuver that required rolling her plane wing over wing at the top of each loop. During Stinson's tour of Asia the following year, Japanese women went wild with excitement to see one of their own sex engaging in such daring air exploits, and her 1917 flight from San Diego to San Francisco set new benchmarks for both distance and time in the air. Stinson's flying career came to an abrupt end in about 1920, when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
From National Portrait Gallery
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