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Janet Roberts (Putnam) Temporary Pilot License, November, 1938 (Source: Kirkpatrick)
Janet Roberts (Putnam) Temporary Pilot License, November, 1938

Although she was a certificated pilot, Janet Roberts landed at Tucson as a passenger on Monday, August 24, 1931 at 10:15 AM. She and four other passengers (Peggy Burcham, wife of Register pilot Milo Burcham, a Mrs. Keffner, Ruhe Korisky and Bill Kirstings) arrived in Ryan B-3 NC7735. A photograph of this Ryan is at aerofiles.com.

Their pilot was Lloyd O'Donnell, husband of Register pilot Gladys O'Donnell. They were based at Long Beach, CA and were eastbound this day from Calexico, CA to an unidentified destination.

Her son (cited, right sidebar) provides the image at right (and see below). Another image is here on the Web (she's in the 4th image down on that page), with commentary by her son. Another image of her is at the Clema Granger page on this site. Note this latter image was taken within seconds of the former, with the women only changing positions slightly from one to the other.

Her son also holds a couple of her flight log books. From them we learn that she flew NC7735 in August of 1930 on a 20-minute instructional flight at Long Beach.

She married a pilot named Burleigh Putnam Jr. (not in the Register) and thus became Janet Roberts Putnam (see her 1938 license, above).

According to her flight log book, she stopped in Tucson in 1937, ferrying an Aeronca K, but our Register does not go beyond 1936. Later she married pilot Claude Ferguson then Raymond Kuhns Kirkpatrick. All three husbands were pilots, and all three worked in some association with Howard Hughes. Her flying ended around 1950 when she seems to have decided that with children, it was too dangerous. Janet Roberts passed away in 1965.


There was some conjecture regarding the images linked above. Specifically, the reputed date of the photograph of the nine pioneer female aviators. Mr. Kirkpatrick pursued the issue and resolved it. This is an example of how perserverence pays off. I show a thumbnail of the photograph below, left, so that you know which image we're referring to.

Janet Roberts, 3rd From Right, 1932, With Other Pioneering Women of Aviation
(Source: Norman & Tom Granger)
Janet Roberts, 3rd From Right, 1932, With Other Women of Aviation (Source: Norman & Tom Granger)

Mr. Kirkpatrick states, "That particular picture I am very familiar with! My mother passed away in 1965; we didn't even know that picture existed until 2001, when a friend of my father's sent him a newspaper article about Pancho Barnes, including the picture. He suddenly realized it was much more interesting because his wife was in it. But I was always uncomfortable with the claim of 1929 because my mother would have been 16 and she doesn't look that young....

"In 2004 I researched this and found that the original negative and print are in the Edwards Air Force Base museum [which, after 9/11/01 is not open to the public on a regular basis]. The curator admitted that 1929 was a guess based on inscriptions written on the back of their print but they didn't know for certain. I drew up a timeline of Amelia's travels and assumed it had to have been taken in Southern California (my mother lived in Pasadena and Pancho was also a Californian). This yielded two possible dates.

"Around this time a friend showed me his copy of Pioneers of Aviation by D.D. Hatfield [Hatfield wrote a series of books during the 1970s], which includes the picture twice (once in Pancho's chapter and once in Amelia's), with two different captions, a date of 1932, and the claim of congratulations after Amelia's trans-Pacific flight. But that flight was later [January 11, 1935], so Hatfield was wrong about that....

"My sister and I checked out the LA Times on microfilm and discovered an article stating Amelia landed on July 3, 1932, to attend the Olympics with her family. There was a picture with the article of Amelia, her husband, her stepson, and the Mayor. That picture closely matches one in Hatfield's book. And the article stated Amelia was greeted by local women pilots and named several of them. So I was able to properly date the photo and itemize who's who.

" I presented my findings to the curator at Edwards who agreed with me. I then wrote the folks who run the Web site http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/barnes.html so they could correct the caption (look about halfway down). On my recent visit to the Museum of Flight in Seattle they had a large reprint and I had to giggle a little bit, they copied my caption nearly verbatim."

"And just two days ago [early November, 2009] I find the copy on the DM Airfield Web page, showing an alternate view of the event, and already dated 1932!"


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/31/09 Happy New Year! REVISED:

The Register
We are grateful to Janet Roberts' son, Jim Kirkpatrick for sharing images and information with us about his mother.
I'm looking for photographs and information about her airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
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