Joan Fay Shankle
Joan Fay Shankle (July 2, 1908-1964), was a race pilot and
record setter. She married Clarence
E. “Dutch” Shankle February 29, 1928. They
had two sons, Joseph Fay Shankle (dob 9/17/1928) and
John Dyer Shankle (dob 1/11/1934) .
Her husband taught her to fly, under a student pilot's permit
(#9639) issued in Boston, MA on December 19, 1928. Her student
permit identified her as 20 years old;126 pounds; 5 feet 6
inches tall; hair and eyes brown.
She soloed on May 13, 1929, and telegraphed her family in
Switzerland that she had done so. Issued on July 5, 1929,
she was the first woman to receive a private pilot’s
license in Massachusetts (Private license no. 7838). The
image below is of her pilot's ID as of September 1929
She soon became a leader among women pilots and, in the fall
of 1929, helped found the 99s as a charter member. She became
chair of the New England chapter and spoke to many women’s
clubs about aviation.
In October 1929, when her husband, who was in the military,
needed to ferry new Douglas O-2 aircraft from California back
to Boston, she flew him to March Field in their own private
Stearman (NC5491). She then flew the Stearman back east, becoming
the first woman to fly solo from the Pacific coast to the
This is the flight she cited on October 23 in the Register
where she is flying the Stearman. Note on the signature line
above hers in the Register that she is accompanied by her
husband flying his Douglas O-2K.
On July 6 and 11, 1930, she landed at the Airfield carrying
a Lt. Waite in her Lockheed Sirius, NC13W.
Below is an image of her pilot log book for those flights.
I have highlighted their itineraries. Note the discrepancy
in the spelling of Waite's name between her log
and the Register image.
She was also the first woman to fly solo from Boston to Miami.
In Boston, as her flying experience increased, she became
eligible to take the examination for a limited commercial
license; she was the first woman in Massachusetts to obtain
this license. She also earned a Transport Pilot license.
During 1930, her husband was promoted and assigned to Fort
Sill, OK. About a year later, he resigned from the military
and they moved to their PM Ranch just north of Tubac and
40 miles south of Tucson. They built an airstrip to keep
their Stearman J-5 and Lockheed Sirius (NC13W cited
three times in the Register piloted by Joan). They made
frequent flights around Arizona and from coast to coast,
including good will visits to Mexico. Young son, Joseph,
generally accompanied them on their flights and had his
own log book, faithfully kept for each flight, and his own
Joan Flying NC13W
Joan Shankle was the only Arizona woman entered
in the 1931 National Air Races, which had a field of 16 women
and 44 men. In the 2,400 mile Women’s Speed Classic,
she placed ninth despite a broken stabilizer that developed
a short distance from Amarillo, TX. She repaired the break
with a piece of barbed wire and finished the race. The Blue
Book of Aviation cites her as having accumulated 625 flight
hours as of 1932. All totaled, she made three round trips
across the country through 1932. Below, the FAI license
in effect during her competition in the 1931 National Air
Joan's FAI License, 1931
Later, at the first annual Tucson Air Show held in 1933.
Joan finished third in the free for all Air Race.
On August 24, 1937, Joan graduated from Dallas Aviation School
and Air College in Link Trainer Instruments and radio blind
flight. In May 1938, she was the only woman pilot carrying
mail in Texas in observance of National Air Mail Week.
From 1929 to 1938 she flew a total of 1,311:35 hours. She
had accumulated 2,300 flying hours as of June 20, 1941. She
divorced her husband just before WWII, married another flier
and had two more sons. She died in Honolulu in 1964.
Joan Fay Shankle and Dutch Shankle were inducted to the
Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame on April 17, 1999. Joan appears
again in the Register as a passenger with Louise
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/06/06 REVISED: 01/17/06, 01/21/06, 11/21/06,