Summary
Collection ID:
NASM.2002.0002
Creators:
Skelton, Betty, 1926-
Dates:
circa 1920-2005
Languages:
English
English
Physical Description:
8.21 Cubic Feet
10 legal document boxes, 4 flatboxes
Repository:
In 2002 Betty Skelton donated a collection of materials outlining her career as an aviatrix and race car driver to the National Air and Space Museum. The donated material consists primarily of news clippings, pamphlets, magazines, photographs, and scrapbooks covering the span of Ms. Skelton's career.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection consists primarily of news clippings, pamphlets, magazines, photographs, and scrapbooks covering the span of Ms. Skelton's career.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection has been divided into three series. The first series contains information on Betty Skelton's personal life, including birth and wedding announcements and family photos. The second, pertaining to her professional life, spans a broad range of materials covering the various careers pursued by Ms. Skelton. The third series consists of oversized items such as scrapbooks and large format magazines. Each series is further divided by format (i.e. news clippings, brochures, and photographs) and then chronologically.
SERIES I: Personal
News clippings; Photographs
SERIES II: Professional
News clippings, Programs and Pamphlets; Correspondence; Magazines/Press Releases; Photographs; Negatives
SERIES III: Oversized Materials

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Betty Skelton Frankman, noted aviatrix, automobile test driver, race car driver, and business woman, was born in 1926 in Pensacola, Florida. Her interest in aviation was kindled at a young age while watching Navy stunt pilots practice. Soon, she and her parents began taking flying lessons and Betty soloed for the first time at age 12, four years before the legal age. As soon as she was legally able, age 16, Betty got her pilot's license. At age 19 she joined the Civil Air Patrol while also working as a flight instructor at her father's aviation school. She began a professional career as an aerobatic pilot in 1946, flying a 1929 Great Lakes 2T1A biplane. In 1948, while flying that aircraft, Betty won her first International Aerobatic Championship for Women. She would repeat this achievement in 1949 and 1950 while flying a Pitts-Special S-1C that she nicknamed "Little Stinker." By 1951 Betty realized that she had gone as far as a woman could go in aviation and retired.
Through a chance meeting with Bill France, the founder of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), Betty began a second career as a test and race car driver. She set multiple land speed records and two transcontinental speed records. Her work with Dodge and Chevrolet led her to her next career as an advertising executive for Campbell-Ewald Advertising Agency, the firm that handled Chevrolet advertising.
In 1959, Betty was given the opportunity to train with the original Mercury 7 astronauts. She completed the same physical and physiological tests as the astronauts, but knew a woman was not destined to be the first American in space. The experience resulted in only a cover story in
LOOK
magazine (Vol. 24 No. 3 Feb. 2, 1960). In 1965, Betty married Donald Frankman and, eventually, the two moved to Florida and started a real estate business.
Betty held more combined aviation and automotive records than any other person. Her aviation achievements included: a world speed record for piston engine aircraft (unofficial), two light plane altitude records, and three international aerobatic championships. Her achievements in the automotive field included a women's closed course speed record (144.02 mph), a speed record for 200-249 cubic inch piston displacement (105.8 mph), a 24-hour stock car endurance record, a transcontinental record New York to Los Angeles (56 hrs 58 mins.), four land speed records, a South American transcontinental auto speed record, and multiple Bonneville Speed and Endurance Records.
She was also inducted into many halls of fame including, the International Aerobatic Hall of Fame, the NASCAR International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the Corvette Hall of Fame, the Tampa Sports Hall of Fame, and the Florida Women's Hall of Fame. In 1985, Betty and Don donated her Pitts Special "Little Stinker" to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (NASM). It currently hangs at the entrance to NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles, Virginia. Betty and her second husband, Dr. Allan Erde, retired to The Villages, Florida, a popular retirement community where many residents use golf carts to get from place to place. But Betty, in keeping with her moniker as the "fastest woman on Earth," drove a bright red Corvette convertible. She died at her home on August 31, 2011, at the age of 85.
The following timeline covers key events in Skelton's life, as well as in the aerospace and automotive industries. Events involving Skelton are shown in normal type while those of the latter are shown in italics.
Timeline of Betty Skelton
6/28/1926
Betty is born in Pensacola, Florida
May 1927
Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo west to east transatlantic flight
May 1932
Amelia Earhart becomes first women to solo across the Atlantic
1937
Amelia Earhart and Captain Fred Noonan go missing
12/7/1941
Bombing of Pearl Harbor forces American entry into World War II
1942
Officially soloed and received pilot's license at age 16
1944
Women's Airforce Service Pilots program ends
1945
Joins the Civil Air Patrol, eventually achieving rank of Major
May 1945
End of War in Europe
August 1945
Atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed by Japanese surrender and end of World War II
1946
Begins career as aerobat at Southeastern Air Exposition in Jacksonville, Florida
1947
The United States Air Force becomes an independent military service
Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier becoming the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound
1948
Becomes International Aerobatics Champion for women
Buys "Little Stinker"
Orville Wright dies at age 76
Berlin Airlift begins operation
NASCAR is formed
1949
Pilots the smallest plane to cross the Irish Sea
Represents United States in RAF Pageant – Belfast, Ireland
Sets World Light Plane Altitude Record (~26,000 ft)
First non-stop round the world flight is made by Capt. James Gallagher
Represents United States in International Air Pageant – London, United Kingdom
Unofficially sets world Speed Record for engine aircraft (426 mph)
Retains title as International Aerobatics Champion for women
1950
Retains title of International Aerobatics Champion for women
Becomes hostess of radio program "Van Wilson's Greeting Time"
1951
Four monkeys become the first living creatures to travel in space
Retires from Flying
Sets World Light Plane Altitude Record (~29,000 ft)
1953
Jacqueline Cochran becomes first women to fly faster than the speed of sound
Stars in a movie short about motor boat jumping
Meets Bill France and takes first ride in pace car
1954
Sets Stock Car Flying Mile Record (105.88 mph)
Sets new world women's closed course record (144.02 mph)
Sets new world women's closed course record (143.44 mph)
First woman to drive an Indy Car
1955
Participates in Stock Car Endurance Run
1956
Becomes an advertising executive for Campbell-Ewald
Participates in Stock Car Endurance Run
First successful launch of a Chrysler Redstone Rocket from Cape Canaveral
Sets new land speed record (145.044 mph)
Sets transcontinental record New York to Los Angeles (56 hrs 58 mins)
1957
Sputnik 2 carries first dog into space
Participates in Mobilgas Economy Run
Sputnik is launched by the Soviet Union
1958
United States launches Explorer 1, the first US satellite to enter Earth's orbit
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is established
South American Transcontinental Auto Speed Record (41hrs 14 mins)
1959
Trains with Mercury 7 astronauts
1960
Participates in Mobilgas Economy Run
1961
Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space
Participates in Mobilgas Economy Run
Yuri Gagarin becomes first man in space
1962
Cuban Missile Crisis
Participates in Baja Run
1963
John F. Kennedy is assassinated
Valentina Tereshkova becomes first women in space
1965
Sets new land speed record (315 mph)
Marries Donald A. Frankman
1967
An accident during testing of Apollo 1 kills Virgil Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Edward White
1969
Successfully lobbies to end discrimination against female pilots in air racing
Becomes Vice President of Campbell-Ewald's new Women's Market and Advertising Department
Apollo 11 is launched with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, making Neil Armstrong the first man on the moon
1970
Explosion onboard Apollo 13
First scheduled service of the Boeing 747
1972
The last manned mission to the moon, Apollo 17 is completed
President Nixon announces funding for the building of a reusable space shuttle
1974
Charles Lindbergh dies at age 72
1975
Apollo/Soyuz Test Project and Soyuz 19 successfully dock in Earth orbit
1977
Begins working for First Florida Realty
Publishes book
Little Stinker
British Airways and Air France begin regular Concorde service from New York's JKF Airport
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launches Voyager I & II
1980
Jacqueline Cochran dies at age 74
1981
Space Shuttle Columbia launches for the first shuttle mission
1983
Sally Ride becomes first American woman in space
1985
Donates Little Stinker to NASM
1986
Space Shuttle Challenger explodes on take off
Soviet Union launches Mir Space Station
1988
Inducted into International Aerobatic Hall of Fame (1st woman)
1989
Destruction of the Berlin Wall
1993
Inducted into NASCAR International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1st woman)
Inducted into Florida Women's Hall of Fame
1997
Inducted into Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame
Mars Pathfinder lands on surface of Mars
2001
Space Station Mir ends its 15 year life in space
Inducted into Corvette Hall of Fame (1st woman)
Donald A. Frankman dies
2003
Concorde service between the United States and Europe ends
Inducted into International Council of Air Shows Foundation Hall of Fame
2005
Marries Allan Erde
Inducted into National Aviation Hall of Fame
2008
Inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
8/31/2011
Betty dies at her home in The Villages, Florida

Administration
Processing Information
This collection was arranged and described by Jordan Ferraro in 2008. A second group of materials was brought to NASM in 2013. Those items were incorporated into the collection and written into the structure of the original finding aid by Amanda Buel, 2013.
Encoded by Amanda Buel, 2013.
Author
Jordan Ferraro; Amanda Buel
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Betty Skelton, Gift, 2001

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Betty Skelton Collection, NASM.2002.0002, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Pitts S-1 Special Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pitts aircraft Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics -- Competitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Airplane racing Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women air pilots Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women in aeronautics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stunt flying Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Automobile racing Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Advertisements Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATS, "Mercury 13") Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pitts Aviation Enterprises, Inc Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pitts S-1 Special, Little Stinker Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Project Mercury (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151
NASMRefDesk@si.edu
http://airandspace.si.edu/research/resources/archives/