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How Did Helen Keller Fly a Plane?
An aircraft flew from Rome to Paris over the Mediterranean Sea in June 1946. Except for one thing, this flight was nothing out of the ordinary: for the first 20 minutes of the flight, one of the passengers took over as a pilot. Dr. Helen Keller was the passenger, an American author, educator, and campaigner who had been blind and deaf since infancy.
Though many ladies her age would rarely if ever travel by plane, this was hardly Keller’s first flight. Her first journey as a passenger occurred in 1919 on the set of Deliverance, a biographical film about her life in which she starred.
Though Keller was well-known throughout the United States by the age of 16, and globally by the age of 24, some people still disputed that a blind and deaf person could successfully speak with hearing people or graduate from college, both of which Keller had already accomplished.
And because the airplane, which was still a new invention at the time, was all the rage, the creators chose to portray Keller flying as well.
Though Keller was aware that included the sequence in an ostensibly biographical film was ludicrous, she was ecstatic to be able to fly. Keller and her companion Polly Thomson, who interpreted Keller’s speech to others and talked to Keller by pushing symbols into her palm, were going to Europe on behalf of the American Foundation for the Overseas Blind. Keller took over the pilot’s controls as the little plane crossed the Mediterranean.