About Us

Stinson Middle School opened in 1991. It was named for Katherine Stinson, the fourth licensed woman pilot in the U.S. Katherine Stinson was the first woman to "loop-the-loop", practice skywriting, and carry air mail. San Antonio's Stinson Field was established by and named for her family. Katherine financed the Stinson School of Flying. Katherine Stinson, born in Alabama in 1893, was the fourth licensed woman pilot in the United States. Although Miss Stinson originally planned a career in music, she had been interested in aviation since childhood. She became a licensed pilot in July 1912 in order to earn money to pursue her study of music. She began her exhibition flights a year later. By then she had decided aviation was the path for her. As an aviatrix, Miss Stinson distinguished herself by being the first woman to loop the loop and invent a stunt named the "Dippy Twist Loop" in which the plane loops and flips wing-over-wing. She was also the first woman to practice skywriting, carry air mail, and fly in China and Japan.In 1918 Katherine set a U.S. record for men and women by flying non-stop 610 miles from San Diego to San Francisco. Following an exhibition date in Beaumont, Texas, Katherine settled down in San Antonio using the Fort Sam Houston army facilities for the winter. When the infant U.S. Air Service was relocated to Fort Sam Houston, the Stinsons had to move. In October 1915 San Antonio's Stinson Field (Stinson Municipal Airport) came into being on 750 acres southeast of town. The Stinson School of Flying, financed by Katherine Stinson's exhibitions, began training pilots, graduating its first class in November 1915. There are many who believe that Katherine Stinson played a key role in shaping San Antonio as a military town. When World War I broke out, Katherine Stinson volunteered her services as a pilot but was turned down because she was a woman. Determined to contribute to the war effort, Katherine flew to raise money for the Red Cross. She eventually raised two million dollars in pledges. Katherine supported the war effort as an ambulance driver serving in France. Katherine Stinson eventually married a former ace flier and settled in New Mexico. As a person who demonstrated true pioneer spirit, leadership, creativity, and courage in her pursuit of excellence, Katherine Stinson serves as a fine model for young adults today. It is our hope that all students will aspire to the ideals of this worthy namesake.

Katherine Stinson epitomizes the soaring spirit of Texas women. A young woman of unusual spunk, she was determined to fly during an age when women were discouraged from getting behind the wheel of an automobile. Originally, all Katherine Stinson wanted was to go to Europe to study music and then to come back to America to be a great piano teacher. However, because her family was not wealthy, Katherine had to earn money to pay for her trip to Europe. The young Katherine read a newspaper article about the pilots who put on air shows over vacant fields on the outskirts of towns and cities all over America. Some of these pilots earned $1,000 a day! Katherine felt like she had found the answer to her dilemna. Despite the initial protests of her father, she got her first chance to ride in an airplane in January, 1912. Katherine's 20 minute flight excited her so much that she hated to land. She sought out one of the most famous early aviators, Max Lillie, to teach her to fly. He took one look at the tiny Katherine and said, "No!" Lillie underestimated Katherine. She finally persuaded him to take her up in one of his planes and she proved to him that size, strength and sex had nothing to do with being a pilot. Katherine had the qualities that were required- clear thinking, calmness, dexterity and determination. After only four hours of flight time with Max, Katherine flew alone. She loved it, and on July 12,1912, she passed the test to earn her pilot's license. She became the fourth woman pilot in America. Max Lillie encouraged Katherine to move to San Antonio in 1913 to continue her flying. She decided to give it a try. She was delighted with the ideal flight conditions and persuaded her family to move there with her. They eventually leased city land to establish the Stinson School of Flying. Katherine taught herself to loop-the-loop and became the first woman to complete the stunt. In only six months, Katherine had looped 500 times without an accident. Katherine was not only a good pilot, she was also a good mechanic. She knew how to take apart her whole plane and put it back together. In fact, each time Katherine traveled by train to an air show she carried her plane on the train, disassembling it for the trip and reassembling it at her destination. When the United States entered WWI, Katherine wanted to help her country. Katherine volunteered as an army pilot but was turned down because she was a woman. However, Katherine managed to assist with the war effort through the work of the American Red Cross. On December 11,1917, Katherine flew 610 miles in nine hours and ten minutes, making Katherine the greatest long-distance flyer in the world. Despite this accomplishment Katherine was still turned down when she volunteered as a reconnaissance pilot in WWI. Katherine then became the first woman to fly the mail in the United States and set a record in the process. A short time later Katherine became an expert ambulance driver in London and France during WWI. At the end of the war, Katherine contracted influenza, which was later diagnosed as tuberculosis. She fought a six-year battle to recover from the disease. Her spectacular flying career ended. In 1928, Katherine married Miguel Otero, Jr., a former WWI airman. Although Katherine never flew again, her inquiring mind and renewed energy led her to take up a new career. She studied architecture and became an award-winning home designer. Katherine lived to be 86 years old. She never gave in to the fear that prevents people from trying to do something they believe is important. She believed in herself, her abilities and her dreams. She believed that "we can fly." And she did.

Fourth woman in the world to qualify for pilot's certificate First skywriter First women to execute Loop-the-Loop First person to execute a snap roll on top of the loop First woman to own a flying school anywhere in the world First woman to fly U.S. Airmail First woman to fly in Japan and China First woman to fly alone at night Only woman to attempt to enlist as a pilot in WWI. Trained WWI fighter pilots from U.S. and Canada. Raised $2 million for the American Red Cross by flying First nonstop flight from San Diego to San Francisco Focused international attention on San Antonio, contributing significantly to its development as a center of aviation Created the first airport in San Antonio (now known as Stinson Field)

Information from:
Engines of Our Ingenuity 
University of Houston 
Katherine Stinson, 1893-1977 
Walter E. Lees' Journal