In honor of Women’s History Month this March, we sat down with Heather Alexander, Executive Director of the International Women’s Air & Space Museum, in Cleveland, Ohio. The mission of the International Women’s Air & Space Museum is to collect, preserve, and showcase the history and culture of women in all areas of aviation & aerospace, educate people of the world about their contributions, and inspire future generations by bringing the history to life.
Most people are not aware of what women were accomplishing in the early days of aviation…and some don’t even know what women are doing today in the field. Our mission is to save these stories, bring them to life and use them to remember past generations and encourage the next generation.
We wish more people knew about the museum and what we have to offer. We have fantastic artifacts, including some of Amelia Earhart’s personal belongings, and even host wonderful events for all ages and have a lot of fun!
We were incorporated in 1976 and were located in the Dayton area to start. We moved to Cleveland in 1998 and have been calling Burke Lakefront Airport our home ever since. Cleveland was very instrumental in the early days of aviation and it is a natural fit to be located in this great city!
My favorite item is a small hand puppet in the form of a little monkey.
It is the good luck charm that local Ohio pilot Margaret Hurlburt carried with her on all of her flights! She flew during WWII as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots and then as a race pilot after the war. She set a speed record of 337 mph. It’s a great reminder that ordinary people can do extraordinary things—and that we all have something in common.
A story most people are unaware of is the Mercury 13 women. These were women who went through secret testing in the 1960s to prove that women could be astronauts. Unfortunately, it was shut down by Congress. We have the whole story here, including the original transcripts from the congressional hearings, who was involved in it, and the outcome. But you’ll need to visit to find out the rest!
We have a fantastic guest speaker for our March 27 Dinner with a Slice of History event. New York Times best selling Author, Keith O’Brien, will be talking about his book Fly Girls, which follows five of the early women in flight who challenged everyone telling them they couldn’t do it. Also, May 9 is our annual Free Family Day where we fill the [museum] concourse with games and activities that are aviation or space themed and bring the police helicopter and fire department truck over. We have lots of fun and exciting things for the family to do and, it’s FREE!
Want to know more? Celebrate Women’s History Month by bookmarking the International Women’s Air & Space Museum on Yelp and planning your trip.