Monday, November 5, 2012

'Prop Girl' - The Story of Aviation Pioneer Patricia J. Hange

A March 13, 2006 article made mention of Master Mechanic Pat Hange.  In the article it noted that to date she was the first and only woman fully qualified to have received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award.  She was nominated and won the award in 2000.  This Geneva born and Willoughby Cook Cleland Airport based aviation pioneer is just another hidden tid-bit in the history that is our Lake County.

Pat was reared early on in the aviation industry.  As a young girl, she spent countless hours with her father who served in the Air National Guard.  After WWII and before 19 years of age she was a 'prop girl' or lineboy fueling planes.  Minor engine repairs soon followed and full time employment at the former Willoughby Cook Cleland Airport resulted.  Entering a aviation training and certification program, her studies / training consumed  the decade of the 50's.  A degree was confirmed in 1964.  Pat also spent ten years as an inspector of aircraft parts for Thompson Products (TRW). 

It was during the early 60's that Pat met Harriet Hamilton.  Harriet was a teacher and operator of the Lenox Flight School started in 1962 in Ashtabula, Ohio. Pat and aviator Harriet  Hamilton became charter members of the  Cleveland Soaring Society.  Harriet asked Pat to join her at her flight school.  Hamilton would teach and Pat would maintain the fleet.  A partnership blossomed in 1962.  Within two years the ladies moved their flight school to Bartow, Florida.  Success followed.   By 1974 Pat Hange had earned certification status in jet engine repair.  Hange and Hamilton continued their aviation pioneering ways for the next few decades.

Pat Hange has been inducted into the International Women's Air & Space Museum located in Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio.  Her story and those of other N.E. Ohio women aviators are but a one tank trip away.

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