Tosca Trasolini and the Flying Seven

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Sensational Vancouver, by Eve Lazarus, Anvil Press 2014 The gorgeous woman pictured on the cover of Sensational Vancouver and featured in my chapter on Legendary Women is Tosca Trasolini. Tosca was a member of the Flying Seven, Canada’s first all-female aviators’ club. The club formed in 1935—the year she turned 24—after Margaret Fane—one of the Flying Seven flew to California to meet with Amelia Earhart, president of the Ninety-Nines—an American organization for women pilots. There wasn’t enough experienced women pilots to form a chapter here, so the Canadians started their own.

Tosca Trasolini and The Flying Seven
Six of the Flying Seven ca.1940 (Tosca second from right) CVA 371-987

The newspapers of the time called them the “Sweethearts of the Air,” “flying flappers” and “Angels,” defying what a Chatelaine article had asked a few years earlier: “Are women strong enough to fly with safety? Are they fitted temperamentally to operate aircraft?”

Tosca Trasolini, 1936In 1936 the women performed in a dawn to dusk patrol to prove that a “woman’s place was in the air.” They took turns flying over Vancouver in 25-minute stints in two Fairchild bi-planes, a Golden Eagle, Two Fleets, and two Gypsy Moths.

Tosca tried to enlist in the Canadian Air Force during World War 11 , but she and the other six women were swiftly rejected.

Rather than remain grounded, the Flying Seven used their remarkable skills and determination to contribute to the war effort. They raised enough money through stunts to pay for eight planes for the flight training school in Vancouver.

Trasolini family house on East 12th. Eve Lazarus photo
Trasolini family house on East 12th. Eve Lazarus photo

Tosca didn’t just smash ceilings to become one of the country’s first female aviators. She was also a natural athlete, busting records in track and field, baseball, basketball and lacrosse. She held the women’s discus record for British Columbia in the 1930s and qualified for the Summer Olympic Games, but couldn’t afford to compete.

Legend has it that she once humiliated all the young men in the tight-knit Vancouver Italian community when she was the only one who could shinny up a greased pole to collect the cash at the top.

Tosca Trasolini ca.1932
Tosca Trasolini ca.1932

Tosca was Angelo Branca’s secretary for 20 years—the lawyer and later Supreme Court Judge that Canadian Lawyer once rated as the most famous criminal defense lawyer in Canadian history.

She moved to Los Angeles in 1949 and lived there until her death in 1991.

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus. 

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5 comments

  1. Your reference to Tosca brought back a delightful memory of knowing her back in pre-war days when my brother Kenneth Parry would plant me on the bar of his bike and pedal out to Vancouver Airport so he could spend his hard-earned newspaper delivery money to purchase a brief flying lesson from Tosca while I would stand watching by the fence. Tosca was a friend of our father, John William Parry, who was in the ship chandlery business and spoke Italian fluently, as did our mother, Molly (nee Zanini).
    I was quite young at the time (I am now 89), but shared Ken’s fascination with flying and I recall being impressed by Tosca who was beautiful as well as an amazing pilot. She was a member of the Flying Seven, as you recounted, but we lost track of her when WW II started. Ken joined the Air Force, returned after the war and completed his Physics degree at UBC then worked in the oil exploration industry until his retirement at which time he established the Langley Flying School at Langley, B.C. Both Ken and his wife Betty had private flying licenses.
    Ken passed away on September 10 at the age of 93. He was a wonderful brother and my best friend. He and I actually home-built a Pietenpol Scout aircraft in our parents’ garage just prior to the war, but since all private aircraft were grounded at that time, we never had an opportunity to fly it.

    1. Tosca is one of the women that I wrote about that I really would have liked to meet. She seems so interesting on so many levels, and for Sensational Vancouver I was able to interview her niece in California where she lived the rest of her life after moving there in 1949. She married for a few years, then divorced bought 10 acres of land and built herself a cabin in the desert next to a landing strip so she could fly in and out! It was terrific to hear about you and your brother’s encounters with Tosca, and your own very interesting aviation experiences. Thanks so much for dropping by!
      Eve Lazarus recently posted..Lovely Vancouver Homes of 1934My Profile

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