In June 1946, a plane flew from Rome to Paris, crossing the Mediterranean Sea en route. Nothing about this flight was out of the ordinary except for the fact that for the final 20 minutes of the trip, one of the passengers took the controls.
How Did Helen Keller Fly a Plane
Dr. Helen Keller, an American writer, educator, and campaigner who was born blind and deaf, was the passenger. It wasn’t Keller’s first experience in the air, contrary to the stereotypes of the era.
Whilst filming the biopic Deliverance, in which she had a small role, she took her first trip as a passenger in 1919.
Some people still don’t believe a blind and deaf person can successfully speak with hearing people or graduate from college, despite the fact that Keller had previously accomplished both of these things by the time she was 16 and globally by the time she was 24.
The filmmakers of Deliverance attempted to dispel this doubt by incorporating “scenes in which she dresses herself, only to show the world that she can, and in which she sleeps to prove to the curious that she closes her eyes,” among other things.
The producers opted to portray Keller flying as well because the aeroplane was so popular at the time despite still being a relatively new invention.
Keller was overjoyed with the opportunity to fly, despite her awareness that including such a sequence in a biopic was preposterous (Keller regularly argued with the production team because she felt their writing unrealistic).
The event was chronicled in a newsreel, maybe as advertising for the movie: Keller was able to indulge his craving for bodily independence as the technology of flying progressed.
She took an extended flight in 1931, travelling from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C., a distance of about 200 miles (322 km), to meet with the president of the United States.
Having described the plane as “a magnificent graceful bird gliding across the illimitable heavens,” Keller’s comments were reported. This takes us back to 1946, the year Helen Keller flew an aeroplane under her own control.
While on a mission for the American Foundation for the Overseas Blind, Keller and her travel companion Polly Thomson visited Europe (and later India, Africa, and the Middle East), where Thomson acted as Keller’s interpreter and spoke to Keller by pushing symbols into her hand. Keller took over flying duties as they flew over the Mediterranean.
“much how she piloted the plane, by way of hand ‘communication’ between herself and [Thompson].” As Keller took over the controls from Thomson in the pilot’s seat, he was given a set of hand gestures.
The pilots were awed by her deft hand on the controls, according to Thomson. We felt no tremors or vibrations. She sat in the cockpit and quietly and steadily piloted the aircraft. As the pilot, Keller had an enhanced awareness of “the delicate movement” of the plane.
Although the media portrayed Keller’s flight as miraculous, she isn’t the only deaf-blind person to pilot a plane. In 2012, a 15-year-old girl named Katie Inman flew a plane in Florida despite being profoundly deaf.
In both the takeoff and landing phases, she had the help of a flight instructor, who handed over the controls after they reached a cruising altitude of 2,600 feet (about 792 meters). It wasn’t just during Keller’s life that people stopped doubting the abilities of the deaf-blind.
Although blindness was once stigmatised and often connected with venereal disease, her prominence as a writer, speaker, campaigner (and former pilot) helped change that perception.
Once Keller became a public personality, even the Ladies’ Home Journal featured her articles on blindness and disability, which had previously been forbidden topics for women’s periodicals.
The public’s lack of understanding of the deaf-blind was finally called out because to Keller’s efforts to educate the public through her writing, speaking engagements, and aeroplane piloting.