The Fascinating Story of Hattie Meyers
Thanks to WACO Air Museum for this story
The Weaver Aircraft Company (WACO) was formed by Buck Weaver, Clayton Bruckner, and Sam Junkin. Aviatrix Hattie Meyers was married to two of them, but it was after their deaths that she got her own aviation start.
“And when the vivacious Mrs. R. S. Barnaby walked across the field in her spiffy white flying suit the dear old lady in the parked car remarked: ‘First it was short dresses, then shorter dresses, after that they started wearing pajamas on the street and now I see they are going in for plain pants. It won’t be long before the men will be wearing corset covers in self defense’.” – 1931 newspaper article about Hattie Meyers
The history of WACO and Hattie Meyers is intertwined throughout the decades during and after World War I. After the early deaths of her first two husbands, Buck Weaver and Sam Junkin, Hattie moved to Washington D.C. in 1929 with her third husband, naval aviator Ralph Barnaby.
In Washington D.C., Hattie met well-known flyer Betty Gillies. Later in her flying career, Betty would be the first pilot to qualify for the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (later WASPs), and would become president of The Ninety-Nines from 1939-1941.
Betty introduced Hattie to the thrill of piloting at a Long Island glider meet. Hattie and Betty took turns flying in a primary glider, much like the Waco NAZ (on display at WACO Air Museum). The gliders were launched with a shock cord for straight ahead flight. Hattie described it as “just like a bean out of a bean shooter.”
Hattie and Betty earned their class “A” license flying straight ahead from an auto tow. They proceeded to get their class “B” for 180 and 360 degree turns from a tow followed by a good landing, and then they were off to the National Glider Meets in Elmira, New York.
In 1931, determined to earn her “C” license, Hattie was launched off a mountain at Elmira. Riding the updraft, she climbed to 2,500 feet above the launch point. The flight qualified her for FAI License number 37, the first woman to earn a “C” rating.