I’d like to share a story about an individual that authentically exemplifies the spirit of transformational entrepreneurship and the role creativity plays in the emergence of delivering lasting value…that of knowledge and wisdom.
Back in 2008 during my studies at The Epona International Study Center at Apache Spring, Arizona I met a woman named Heather A. Taylor. We were classmates in a highly innovative, spiritually explorative workshop together and as our little group of five individuals got to know each other I discovered what Heather was working on at the time. She had been working in the world of corporate television and decided to strike out on her own to pursue a remarkable vision. Heather wanted to do a film about the first all women’s national air derby that was held in 1929.
Now, striking out on one’s own to launch an entrepreneurial endeavour takes courage, but choosing to walk the path of an independent filmmaker requires a level of courage of nearly mythic proportion. It truly represents what the ground-breaking, comparative mythology expert Joseph Campbell would call The Hero’s Journey. Every indie filmmaker must find their own path, discover their narrative voice, invest enormous treasure, build collaborative relationships, engage fully with their creative spirit, and hold fast to their vision with tenacity against nearly insurmountable odds for success. And all this must emerge before they can even begin to tirelessly work the film festival circuit in hopes of securing a distribution deal.
The result of Heather’s heroic journey has created a beautiful and inspirational film that brings a part of our historical and cultural landscape that was all but forgotten to life. “Breaking Through The Clouds – The First Women’s National Air Derby” tells the story of the 20 courageous, trail-blazing women that flew, by themselves, from California to Cleveland, Ohio. A mere nine years after the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, giving women the right to vote, these remarkable women set out to show the world just how equally capable they were in the dangerous world of competitive flight.
Living in 2012, it is easy to forget how deeply embedded chauvinistic attitudes were some eighty-three years ago. Even in our contemporary times, women still are not paid the same wage for the same work as men. As of 2011 only 12 of the Fortune 500 companies were led by women. The representation of women leading these large corporations actually fell from 15 in 2010. Just imagine the hurdles, barriers, and barricades these 20 women faced in 1929!
The film itself is a masterpiece of storytelling. It is fast paced, deftly interweaving rare archival footage of the historical event with original interviews of the women during and after the race, commentary from contemporary, champion female aviators, aviation history experts, museum curators, and the descendent’s of the women who truly broke through the clouds of cultural constraints. It even includes the commentary of the last surviving woman from the race!
As Heather pulls us into this thrilling journey (trust me, you wont want to look away for a moment), we’re introduced to some of the most fascinating and important women our world has ever known. Women like the vivacious and bold Pancho Barnes, the brilliant Louise Thaden, the glamorous Ruth Elder, the Alaska bush pilot Marvel Crosson, the iconic Bobbi Trout, and of course, the legendary Amelia Earhart. As the story unfolds something more begins to come to the surface. Something our contemporary world could use today; a spirit of cooperative competition and authentic community these women, mostly in their 20′s at the time, demonstrated throughout the gruelling race.
Through the creation of this historically important and wildly entertaining film, Heather has brought this message into our world. Not by telling us, but by showing us how this handful of women competed and cared for one another while demonstrating to the world just how capable women truly are in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue. Their collective display of competency and courage helped propel the idea that commercial aviation was a viable endeavour. This is a film that should be in every classroom in the country and seen by every aspiring, visionary entrepreneur.
I’d like to share a quote from the credits from Heather, who wrote, produced, financed, and directed this monumental film ~
“I am enormously grateful to the 20 women pilots who flew in the First Women’s National Air Derby. They are role models for following one’s heart and pursuing one’s passion, no matter how illogical it may sound to others. They were true pioneers who were able to reach towards the sky and break through the clouds.” ~ Heather A. Taylor