Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Aviation Pioneer Janet Dietrich, Dead at 81

It's sad to have two obits in one week. First Cyd, now aviation figure Janet Dietrich, who died at 81 this week. Dietrich (seen at left above with her twin sister Marion in 1957) was among a small crew of NASA women astronauts who trained in secret at something called the Lovelace Clinic in New Mexico. Even though it sounds like the setting for a 1970s stag film, it had some historical importance. According to the San Francisco Chronicle,
The women underwent the same medical tests and examinations as John Glenn and the other men who eventually traveled into space. The extensive exams included everything from swallowing 3 feet of rubber hose to drinking radioactive water.
OK, moving right along...

Though only 5 feet 3 inches tall and 100 pounds, Miss Dietrich completed the regimen of tests, as did her sister and 11 other women.

While the women waited for the next phase of their program in July 1961, the testing was halted without warning or explanation.

Too bad for them, and us. But hey, twin sisters with an intrepid spirit, and great eyebrows. You can't do much better than that. R.I.P., Ms. Dietrich.

Photo by Albert “Kayo” Harris, 1957

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