The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

National Women's History Month

March is National Women's History Month and the 2015 honorees for Women of Character, Commitment and Character. See the listing of all the honorees at

Jerrie Cobb, Born to Fly

An amazing and courageous young woman, Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb, was born in a small Oklahoma town in 1931. She became one of the most acclaimed aviators of all time. Ms. Cobb took her first ride in the backseat of a Waco, an open-cockpit biplane, which was flown by her father, Lt. Col William Cobb. She gained her Private Pilot's license at age 17, her Commercial Pilot's license when she was 18 and Flight Instructor's Rating soon thereafter. To raise money for fuel to fly she took barnstorming gigs to drop circus leaflets in small towns and by the age of 19 she was teaching others to fly. Needless to say it was almost impossible for a young woman to get a job as a pilot, but when working in an aircraft maintenance facility in Miami, she fell in love with the owner, WWII veteran Jack Ford, who gave her the job to deliver aircraft to foreign air forces in Europe. Ford died tragically two years later in a plane explosion. As more and more male pilots needed jobs after the war, Cobb was able to keep flying by taking routine jobs, such as patrolling pipelines and crop dusting. Not to be stopped, she went on to earn her multi-engine, instrument, flight instructor and ground instructor ratings. She also earned her airline transport license.

Jerrie Cobb with a Mercury spacecraft. Courtesy of NASA. Public domain.


Dr. W. Randolph Lovelace, a Harvard-educated physician, had developed many tests during his work at the Mayo Clinic to screen potential applicants for space. He established a lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico and tested the astronauts for the group that became the Mercury 7. He thought that women had many advantages to being space travelers, including adaptability to cramped quarters, fewer heart attacks and lighter weights. He and Air Force comrade, General Donald Flickinger, were interested in setting up a program to test women as potential astronauts. After the Air Force cancelled their program, Lovelace established his own privately funded program called Women in Space. This was in 1959. According to, "Jerrie Cobb was the first female to volunteer for the program. Having taken up flying at just age 12, she held numerous world aviation records for speed, distance and altitude, and had logged more than 10,000 hours of flight time. Of the Mercury 7 astronauts, John Glenn had the most flight experience at a total of 5,100 hours.

"Cobb had undergone a standard battery of personality and intelligence tests, EEG and neurological tests and psychiatric interviews. On the final day of advanced testing she was immersed in a soundproof isolation tank filled with cold water in order to induce total sensory deprivation. Based on previous experiments in several hundred subjects, it was thought that six hours was the absolute limit of tolerance for the experiment before the onset of hallucinations. Cobb, however, spent more than nine hours in the water, before the staff terminated the experiment." Read more about Cobb and the other women who make up the Mercury 13 at

There were three stages of physical and psychological evaluation that were used in choosing the first seven Mercury astronauts. Cobb went on to successfully pass all the tests necessary to fly in space. In fact all 13 of the women passed the same tests that the Mercury 7 men had passed. Cobb was asked to attend a Flight Training Program in Florida, but the program was soon cancelled, because the powers that be didn't believe that a woman's place was in space and Cobb's dreams of space travel were over. When John Glenn flew again on a shuttle mission in 1998 to study the effects of aging, many people petitioned to let Cobb make her long hoped for journey but it has never happened.

Cobb did not rest on her laurels and she didn't let the world stop her. She spent many years flying medical missions in South America and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. She was the fourth American to be awarded the Gold Wings of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in Paris, France. She received many other honors including the Amelia Earhart Gold Medal of Achievement. Read more about her at her foundation's website.

To learn more about the Mercury 13, check out Right Stuff, Wrong Sex by Margaret Weitekamp.

How to Run a Local Drill Competition

The grassroots movement of drill is vital to its continued thriving. Many of the readers of this section of the Bugler are soloists. A large problem for soloists, especially professional level soloists who no longer belong to a team, is that there are very little competitive opportunities for them to express themselves. For many people, this is simply a by-product of the obscurity of the sport, but it doesn't have to be this way. The alternative option is simple: Host your own drill competitions.

This may sound like an overwhelming task, but it's much easier and cheaper than most people think. I've run the FLDC event for 4 years now, all for a total cost of about $100. Here's what you’ll need:

  1. A Rolotape. They are available on for around $55.
  2. Cones. Check out the sports section of your local all-purpose store. Cost: $10.
  3. Ribbons. Get something large enough for your box. Cut to size. Cost: $10.
  4. Duct tape. To tape down the ribbons. $5.
  5. Clipboards and pencils for your judges. $10.

Total cost: $90

The best part is this equipment is all reusable. Your one-time investment will keep your competition running indefinitely.

What about the prizes? It's always smart to offer a percentage of the entry fee as the prize for winning. Therefore, more competitors mean a larger cash prize. If you want trophies (optional), determine how much of the proceeds will need to go towards that fund.

So, now that you have supplies, what next?

Step 1: Select a date and location. The date is arbitrary - set it, and competitors will come. The location, however, is a bit trickier. I've had good luck with apartment complexes letting me use grounds for free, and no permits. Check local parks as well. Good, cheap locations include tennis courts, basketball courts, parks, etc.

Step 2: Select your events. Solo only? Or do you want team events. This may be restricted by your location. Consider the events you'd like to see when you select your location.

Step 3: Choose your judging method. There are a few out there that are free and easy to use such as Exhibition Essentials, the SNI Nationals Scoring, WDA, and more.

Step 4: Find judges. Most of these will be volunteers. Ask former drillers in your area or friends that are familiar with drill.

Step 5: Create the S.O.P. What are the rules of your event? It doesn't have to be a 20-page essay - the rules could be a single sheet of paper long. It should include: Date, location, time, events, fees, rules, penalties, score sheets, and other information you wish to include.

Step 6: Have the competition. Have fun.

Step 7: Announce the awards. Gather the competitors and let them know who won.

And that's it. It's a lot less work than most people realize, and it's very rewarding. If you need any advice, contact me at AJeup@Mail.USF.Edu.

Adam Jeup has been an active driller for 11 years and has competed at IWDC. He owns and operates Independent Drill, a learning resource for drillers of all skill levels. Adam is a regular contributor to the Bugler. Stay tuned for his exclusive articles on competitive drill!

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