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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Bernice T. "B" Steadman
Bernice Trimble Steadman, more fondly known as "B," was born July 9, 1925 in Rudyard in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As a child, flying was the center of her universe and, once graduated from high school, she got the opportunity to learn in Flint, Michigan. She actually had her pilot's license before her driver's license! "B" began flying professionally when she received her commercial rating in 1946 and then obtained her instructor rating.
She taught and flew charter planes and when the opportunity arose, began her own flight school and charter service as part of her FBO, Trimble Aviation. "B" was an air racer, winning many of the major national and regional races including the All Women Transcontinental Air Race, the International Air Race, and the Michigan Small Race. She consistently placed in the top ten in every race without a specially prepared aircraft and often using aircraft on loan from others. One of the first women to obtain an Airline Transport Rating, she instructed reserve Air Force officers, corporate pilots and other airline pilots.
In 1961, "B" was one of only 13 women who passed the Mercury Space Program's medical and performance tests to become an astronaut. Unfortunately, NASA cancelled the women's part of the program. Recipient of the Michigan Outstanding Pilot Award, in 1968 "B" was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the original members of the President's Women's Advisory Committee on Aviation. Also in 1968, she was appointed chairperson of the Ann Arbor Airport Commission and elected President of the International Ninety Nines, the largest organization of women pilots that is active throughout the world. "B" is co-founder of the International Women's Air & Space Museum and has been its President or Executive Vice President for much of its lifetime.
In 1996 "B" started her own Taxi company in Traverse City and has been actively involved in the daily operations of that company including driving cab on a regular basis. She recently co-authored with Jody Clark a book on her life, Tethered Mercury, which has received exceptional reviews.
Bernice T. "B" Steadman was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 12, 2002.