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Enjoy historical tourism at its finest when you attend Summer Chautauqua under the big white tent inside Humphrey Heritage Village at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center.

The 2023 theme is American Aviation: Barnstorming to Mach 1.

From the simplest form of human flight to the most advanced, humans have challenged themselves for over 2,000 years to fly! Some among us seek to touch the skies and do so from their seats in the cockpit! From early aviation pioneers to test pilots, these bold aviators have been willing to risk it all to go higher, faster, further. During our special Chautauqua evenings, we will bring to life five aviators, each with different yet similar stories. We will hear the stories of a pilot’s breath-taking wonderment in flying alone through a star-filled night sky; a courageous little Oklahoma barnstormer who found an inexplicable joy in flying; an accomplished aviator and tenacious social activist who worked to break down the barriers of race, class and gender; a record-setting pilot determined to open the door for other women aviators; and a daredevil test pilot pulled to the edge as he lived for speed.

Tuesday: Amelia Earhart, portrayed by Elsa Wolff

Amelia Earhart set flying records and advanced the role of women in aviation. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and the first person ever to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. Her disappearance during her 1937 flight to circumnavigate the globe remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century. Wolff’s workshops are “Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight into Mystery” and “WASPs — Fly Girls of World War II.”

Wednesday: Eula “Pearl” Carter Scott, portrayed by Selene Phillips

The first Native American pilot, Pearl Carter made aviation history in 1929 when she took her first solo flight at the age of 14. Born in Marlow, she was a barnstormer, commercial pilot, stunt pilot, and a crowd favorite at airshows in Oklahoma and Texas. She was inducted into Halls of Fame of the Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma Aviation and Space and the International Women’s Air & Space Museum. Philips’ workshops are “Women Air Service Pilots — WASPs” and “Women Aviation Uniforms.”

Thursday: Rose Cousins, portrayed by Ilene Evans

Rose Agnes Rolls Cousins was the first black woman solo pilot in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) at West Virginia State College in 1941. In WWII, she faced double discrimination: She was denied entry into a combat role with the Tuskegee Airmen due to her gender and into the WASPs due to her race. Returning to West Virginia State she helped run the CPTP. Evans’ workshops are “The Tuskegee Airmen Legacy: Black Wings in Blue Skies” and “The Mystery and Adventure of Flight, from Captain Midnight to Snoopy, the Great Flying Ace.”

Friday: Jackie Cochran, portrayed by Karen Vuranch

Jacqueline Cochran was the first woman to break the sound barrier and, at her death in 1980, she held more speed, altitude and distance records than any other male or female pilot in aviation history. She helped form the WASPs and held leadership roles in the aviation community. Vuranch’s workshops are “Fly Girls: Women Pilots of WWII” and “Long Distance Vision,” focusing on literary works written by aviation pioneers of the 1920s.

Saturday: Chuck Yeager, portrayed by Doug Mishler

Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Chuck Yeager was the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound. He flew combat missions in WWII and went on to serve in the newly constituted United States Air Force as a flight instructor and test pilot. He trained pilots for the space program in the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilots School. Mishler’s workshops are “Romantic or Mundane: Aviation and American Culture” and “Higher, Further, Faster.”

Workshops will be held at 10:30 am and Noon each day, with feature performances beginning at 6:30 pm with live entertainment followed by the scholar at 7:30 pm. Admission to all Chautauqua events is always free.

Workshop Schedule

10:30 am Workshop: Practicality Meets High Fashion, by Selene Phillips
12:00 pm Workshop: “The Beast” & Beyond, by Doug Mishler
6:30 pm Entertainment: TBA
7:30 pm Main Performance: Elsa Wolff as Amelia Earhart
10:30 am Workshop: Tuskegee Airmen Legacy, by Ilene Evans
12:00 pm Workshop: Flight into Mystery, by Elsa Wolff
6:30 pm Entertainment: TBA
7:30 pm Main Performance: Selene Phillips as Eula “Pearl” Carter Scott
10:30 am Workshop: Fly Girls, by Karen Vuranch
12:00 pm Workshop: Miles of Clear Oklahoma Sky, by Selene Phillips
6:30 pm Entertainment: TBA
7:30 pm Main Performance: Ilene Evans as Rose Cousins
10:30 am Workshop: The Cold War & the Space Race, Doug Mishler
12:00 pm Workshop: Mystery & the Adventure of Flight, by Ilene Evans
6:30 pm Entertainment: TBA
7:30 pm Main Performance: Karen Vuranch as Jacqueline Cochran
10:30 am Workshop: Women Aviators of World War II, by Elsa Wolff
12:00 pm Workshop: The Women of NASA, by Karen Vuranch
6:30 pm Entertainment: TBA
7:30 pm Main Performance: Doug Mishler as Chuck Yeager
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