Aviation pioneering legends

‘Breaking Through the Clouds’ producer to speak at air museum event

Submitted Photo Heather Taylor, producer, director, writer and researcher of the award-winning documentary, “Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby,” will be at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot on Wednesday.

On a hot August day in 1929, 20 female pilots including Amelia Earhart took off in their planes from Santa Monica, California, to race across country in the First Women’s National Air Derby.

They had just a compass and a road map to guide them and ultimately become pioneering legends in aviation.

Heather Taylor, producer, director, writer and researcher of the award-winning documentary, “Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby,” will be at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot on Wednesday at 6 p.m. for the special event “Women, Wine & Wings.”

She will show the 90-minute documentary and will also answer questions. The event is sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings, Little Chicago Pub District and Grand Hotel. Food and beverages will be available. Attendance cost is admission price to the air museum.

Taylor, who lives in Columbia, Maryland, will be visiting North Dakota for the first time. “(It’s) one of the few states I have yet to visit.

Considered the expert on the First Women’s National Air Derby, according to Taylor the 20 women pilots were from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of flying experiences. Over the course of nine days, they would navigate through rough weather, mechanical failures and emergency landings. But their challenges were not just in the air. They faced public scrutiny, oppressive cultural stereotypes, and rambunctious crowds threatening their safety at every stop as those hoping to catch a glimpse of the “ladybirds” broke through police barriers.

The women made a statement in a new era, with new technology, and new dreams, showing the world women could be independent, competitive, self-sufficient and really good pilots. They became ambassadors of flight in the golden age of aviation, according to Taylor.

Being aired on PBS stations across the country, “Breaking Through the Clouds” has received top honors at more than a dozen film festivals. Taylor is the recipient of the prestigious Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

She has written numerous articles about the Derby that have been published in magazines, e-zines, and blogs. Her work’s also cited in several books on women in aviation. She has participated on panels across America on the various subject matters associated with the film, including at the National Air & Space Museum. She has also given presentations at Women in Aviation Conferences, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (largest air show in the world at Oshkosh, Wis.), schools, museums, and organizations across the country. Taylor had the honor of inducting the 20 women who flew in the First Women’s National Air Derby into the Women in Aviation’s Pioneer Hall of Fame.

Taylor formed her production company, Archetypal Images, LLC. Previous to starting her own company, she worked at Discovery Communications. She has a masters degree in producing film and video.

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