today in 1880, Helen Keller was born.
She became famous as a woman who was both deaf and blind who became an accomplished author and public speaker, as well as a champion for disabilities rights and women’s rights, among other causes.
And on one occasion, she was a pilot.
A few years ago someone online sarcastically spoke out as a kind of Helen Keller truther, saying how could she have flown a plane?
And not everyone knew it was sarcastic so there was a big to do online, so Snopes took a look at the historical record and here’s what actually happened.
Helen Keller took part in a lot of public activities.
She wanted the world to recognize the talent and capabilities of people with disabilities.
And she liked trying new things.
An old newsreel explains how she took up diving and tobogganing (not at the same time).
When flying became widespread, she wanted to try that too.
In 1919 she was a passenger on a biplane, which was filmed for newsreels.
Then, in 1946, she boarded a flight on a four-engine plane from Rome to Paris.
The then-66 year old sat in the co-pilot’s seat and the pilot gave her control of the plane for about 20 minutes.
The pilot could give Keller instructions by relaying them through a companion, Polly Thomson, who could sign the words into Keller’s hands.
Not that she needed much instruction.
According to Thomson, Keller flew “calmly and steadily.”
Keller said that it was “wonderful to feel the delicate movement of the aircraft through the controls.”
The Wimbledon tennis tournament is getting underway.
Players not only have to step up their games, they have to follow certain rules about dress and conduct.
There is no swearing out loud in tennis, and in case you’re wondering, Snopes has confirmed that tennis umpires do study swear words in many languages so they don’t miss any.
Did Helen Keller Fly a Plane? (Snopes)
Do Wimbledon Umpires Learn Curse Words in Multiple Languages? (Snopes)
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Photo by Wikicommons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Helen_Keller_in_1950#/media/File:Keller,_Thomson,_Bonnevie-Svendsen.jpg