BERYL MARKHAM - 9-6-36"Beryl Markham of "West with the Night." I suspect that Rudy Arnold took this one, too. My uncle's white hat is sticking up in the background. That's John McKenzie to the left of Markham."
Mrs. Markham, "Over-
whelmed" at Reception,
Met by Crowd of 5,000.
NEW YORK, Sept. 6 --(UP)--Whistles sirens and the shout of "Hello Blondie," greeted Mrs. Beryl Markham, 31-year-old English society matron today as she arrived by plane from Nova Scotia--first woman to fly the Atlantic westward.
Mrs. Markham arrived in a plane piloted by Arthur Bussey, which landed here at 4:16 p. m. after stopping at North Beach airport by mistake. Her own Gull ship is a wreck in the Nova Scotian swamp where she landed after she ran out of fuel.
Her golden hair whipped in the breeze as she hopped out of Bussey's plane. There were patches of adhesive tape on her forehead where she was injured in the forced landing, but she smiled at the crowd of 5,000.
A welcoming committee rushed forth to greet the woman who alone in a tiny airplane without a radio took off from Abingdon airdrome, England, for a 3,700 mile non-stop flight to New York city and almost made it.
"I am overwhelmed at this marvelous reception which I feel I do not desrve," Mrs. Markham said. "But I do wish I could have arrived here in my own plane."
She was thinking of her blue 200-horsepower Gull which still lay in the swamp at Baleine Cove, its propeller torn off, the motor broken, the left wing smashed and the landing gear shattered. It had carried her for 24 hours and 40 minutes.
She wore a blue blouse and grey trousers. Everybody shouted as she was taken to the cocktail room of the administration building. She turned frequently and waved back. A few minutes later she was taken to Manhattan in a large black automobile decorated with United states and British flags. A motorcycle escort preceeded the car.
Mrs. Markham flew down from Louisburg, N. S, with stops at Halifax, Portland, Maine, and Boston. Crowds greeted her everywhere. Premier Ramsay MacDonald met her in Halifax. She had spent the night in Louisburg after trudging three miles through mud to get aid.
"What do you think of it all?" she was asked.
"Well, I'm terribly happy to be here. I'm only sorry that I couldn't have flown all the way."
"Do you expect to fly back?"
"I may possible go back by plane."
Asked about her injuries, Mrs. Markham pointed to the adhesive tape and said; "It is a bit painful over the left eye here."
She had been thrown against the instrument board when her plane landed. As she raised her head, reporters saw she wore two wrist watches, one given her by Captain James Mollison just before she took off in England. She smiled gaily as she talked.
"Something a bit stronger, I think," she answered.
"How about a champagne cocktail?"
"That would be fine."
As the drink was being made, she said her plane had not been damaged beyond repair. Asked about her biggest thrill, she answered:
"It was a vision of settling down on the Atlantic when I noticed that my petrol was giving out about 200 miles off Harbor Grace."
The weather, she said, was "lousy."
She referred to the strong headwinds which buffeted her tiny monoplane until she was covered with bruises, the rain and fog which prevented hyere from seeing land until she had crossed Newfoundland and the terrific storm through which ehr ship ahd to light, using far more gas than she had planned.
After the crash, she telephoned her husband that "another five minutes in the air would have meant disaster and almost certain death." He quoted here as saying she would not fly the Atlantic again "for a million sterling."
As the car bearing her rolled away from the airport, Mrs. Markham tossed a cigaret from the window and waved again.
Via email from Bill Evans, 8-28-08
Also of interest, Eddie Rickenbacher, and his chief pilot Dick Merrill, tried to dissuade her saying the east west flight in a small airplane was too dangerous. She finished up in a bog in Newfoundland.
Dick Merril a few weeks later had flown from Croydon with co pilot Richman to New York. They landed short in a marsh miles from habitation in Newfoundland.
Beryl tried to persuade Rickenbacher to let her fly out and rescue them but he told her not to go.
Merrill and Richman had filled the wings of their airplane with ping pong balls so it would float better in the event of a water landing.
I got all this first hand having sat next to Dick at dinner in Oklahoma City celebrating their round the world trip in a Rockwell Jet Commander in May 1966. They set off two days later leaving Arthur Godfrey behind who pleaded a head cold. Their triumphal return was marred by the fact Bill Lear had heard of the attempt and quickly dispatched a Lear 23 around the world evidently with few clearances arriving back in Kansas twelve hours before the Jet Commander
Via email from Greg Powers, 11-15-06
Have you read her book, "West with the Night?" I read it some years ago when it came out in soft reprint.
In West with the Night
Here is a good website summaries links for Markham.
Markham was a pal of Karen Blixen a/k/a Isak Dinesen a/k/a Titian, the Danish woman on whom the movie "Out of Africa" was based and who, unfortunately, perhaps is best remembered for the terrible case of syphilis Blixen got (it killed her in the early '60s) from her philanderer husband.