The Power oF a simple Blog Post

Who knew that such a short and simple blog post could turn out to be such an unexpected force of connection?

In February of 1965, two women died in a plane that crashed into the mountains just outside of Los Angeles. The plane crash made news headlines around the world. No one expected that Joan Merriam Smith, the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, would be gone by the age of 28. No one expected that her biographer, Trixie Ann Schubert—also an accomplished pilot—would be lost so soon.

After publishing a short post to an obscure blog in 2010 about a letter that Trixie had written to her children before she died, Trixie’s granddaughter, Tiffany, began receiving dozens of unexpected emails from people across the web. Among the comments received:

“Your Grandmother, Joan Merriam and the Saturday Evening Post article “I Flew Around the World Alone” by Joan Merriam that your Grandmother helped Joan write, Aztec Aircraft at Long Beach Airport, and the other women who were your grandmother’s contemporaries are all part of early memories for me. The woman that your Grandmother associated with and was indeed one of, were a unique breed of women of adventure. It is ironic that the story of Joan’s incredible life’s ambition inspired by Amelia Earhart was accomplished at such a young age and then the important story never properly told. We not only lost Joan, we lost your Grandmother, the one person that could have written the story properly.”

“We knew Trixie – and your Grandfather also. My former wife and I would often visit your grandparents at their home in LA. We knew your Mom because of my wife’s involvement in the 99’s, the International Organization of Women Pilots, of which your Grandmother was a very active member. Had great convivial dinners at your Grandmother’s on a number of occasions, too. She was the kind of character one never forgets, filled with joy, intelligence and good wit. She had quite an impressively uplifting sort of personality, always upbeat. Certainly a talented writer, she was a most memorable lady.”

“Your grandmother and my mother were, as I understand it, friends back in the 50’s and perhaps before. In 1948 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the treatments available to her at that time and was told that she would be unable to conceive any more children. Well, I was born in 1951, the 3rd of three boys in our family. In 1954 the cancer returned and settled in mom’s spine and in 1956, my dad and mom decided to make a trip to Lourdes, France searching for a cure. Their journey was documented by Trixie Ann Schubert and was written up in the September, 1956 issue of St Joseph’s magazine. My mother passed away in January 1957, two days after my 6th birthday. I have an original issue of that September 1956 St. Joseph’s magazine that I have read and reread many many times over the years. The article that was written by your grandmother has been a touchstone of sorts to me over all these decades …”

“My mother also knew Trixie. They were very dear friends and I heard constantly about her in my life (mom is still alive at 92 and occasionally mentions her in conversation about the past). We leave our marks on this little planet for all time.”

Fate on a Folded Wing is the direct outgrowth of these and many other conversations, which sparked the ensuing research, that would eventually lead to this book.

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