We take a short break from coronavirus coverage and anxiety today to give a cheer for Pittsburgh International Airport, which is celebrating Women’s History Month by putting a statue of legendary traveler and early investigative journalist Nellie Bly in the terminal.
Bly, the pen name for Elizabeth Seaman Cochran, grew up in Western Pennsylvania and in 1885 went to work for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, which is now the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She moved to New York City in 1887 to work for the New York World and wrote a groundbreaking expose of the terrible conditions at a mental institution by posing as a patient.
In 1889 she set off
for a trip about the world, determined to break the fictional record of Phileas
Fogg, whose journey was described by Jules Verne in his 1873 novel, “Around the
World in Eighty Days.”
Bly left Hoboken, New Jersey by ship and completed the trip in 72 days, 6 hours 11 minutes and 14 seconds, traveling by horse, rickshaw, sampan, burro and other vehicles along the way.
Her 1890 book chronicling the adventure is “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.”
Pittsburgh International Airport already
has two statues in the terminal: George Washington and Franco Harris, a legendary
Pittsburgh Steelers player.
Those statues are stationed in the PIT terminal as promotions for the city’s Heinz History Center and are popular spots for selfies.
At the end of March, to mark Women’s History Month and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the Heinz History Center will add Nellie Bly’s statue to the PIT terminal.
*From 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. CVG is inviting community members to stop by the Airport Viewing Area to watch planes take off and land and enjoy a family-friendy outing with the Kona Ice truc, the CVG fire truck, games and other activities.
*From 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CVG and Graeter’s Ice Cream will be greeting arriving passengers with samples of ice cream. There will also be a performance from ArtsWave Presents and aviation-themed giveaways in the terminal.
On National Aviation Day, one of my traditions is to remember Katharine Wright, Orville and Wilbur’s sister, who was often referred to as “The Third Wright Brother.”
Don’t know about her? That’s because Orville tried to have Katharine’s role in the brothers’ accomplishment erased from history.
Here’s a short feature story I produced about Katherine Wright back in 2003 for National Public Radio as part of my Hidden Treasures Radio Project series.
But the aviation-themed architectural features in the building and the information panels highlighting Witchita’s rich aviation history still seem shiny new.
In fact, the terminal looks more like a museum than an airport.
I’m putting a visit on my 2019 “go there” list right now. I’m looking forward to learning more about the airport’s history (the first terminal is now an aviation museum) and about Witchita’s aviation history, which reaches back long before 1928, when Clyde Cessna created the Cessna Aircraft Co. and Wichita begans promoting itself as “The Air Capital of the World.”