Betty Lee Bennet: 10-Year-Old Girl Who Became the Youngest Solo Flier On Record
Ten-year-old Betty Lee Bennett has been up in the air a good part of her early years. When she was six months old her father, Alfred Bennett, who is vice president of the Taylorcraft light-plane company, took her up for a ride. At age 3, she tried the controls.
In September 1952, she began her training to fly solo, first by driving the family car around an open field by herself, then by taxiing a plane around an airport for hours.
Almost every day her father gave her a lesson. And by November 1952, Alfred Bennet felt his daughter was ready to fly alone.
The actual flight, which took place in Cuba because 16 is the minimum age for solo flying in the U.S. made Betty Lee the youngest solo flier on record.
LIFE photographed her flight by setting up a robot camera in the plane: each time Betty Lee moved the aileron controls she took her own picture. The 10-minute Flight was perfect. Betty Lee seemed completely calm – far calmer than her father, who, though he insisted he was not nervous, suffered an understandable attack of fatherly fidgets.
On the ground, father squints and strains until plane is down.
In the air, unflustered daughter concentrates on her flying.
Betty Lee is rewarded with a hug from her father after the flight. She took right off again for second solo and after the second asked, “Please, may I go up again?”
Al Bennett Jr. soloed in Mexico at the age of 11 and did it again after his sister had finished.
Their younger sister Kathie, 4, has tried flying but is too vigorous with controls to be trusted yet.