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.
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?”
In 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.
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 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.
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