Status: Inactive. Born: 1925-06-03.
Flight instructor from the age of 14, nicknamed "Captain K". One of the group of women who went to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1961 and underwent the same medical and psychological tests that the Mercury 7 astronauts had completed. She was one of the Mercury 13 finalists, considered qualified by Dr. Lovelace for astronaut training. Later worked for the US Department of Agriculture as pilot.
Georgia Hall of Fame Biography: Myrtle "Kay" Thompson Cagle was born in North Carolina on June 3, 1925. At the age of 12, she learned to fly under the tutelage of her brother. She received her wings at the age of 14, becoming the youngest pilot in the state and possibly the nation at the time. In high school, she was allowed to join the aeronautics class, and did so well that when the instructor was drafted, she stepped in and finished the year as the teacher. At 19, she received her private license, and owned an air¬plane by the age of 20, and by 23, received her commercial license. During the 1940s, Myrtle joined the Civil Air Patrol, the Ninety-Nines, and was accepted into the World War II WASP program. While living in North Carolina, Cagle ran an airport near Raleigh while maintaining a charter service. By 1951, she held a Commercial Pilots license with Airplane Single and Multi-Engine Land ratings, Instrument ratings, and was a certified Flight Instructor, Flight Instrument Instructor and Ground Instructor. In 1946, she joined the staff of the Johnstonian Sun newspaper in Selma, North Carolina, writing the weekly aviation column "Air Currents," later moving it to the Raleigh News and Observer where it ran from 1953 to 1960. In 1955, she was named Miss North Carolina Air Power. After moving to Macon, Georgia, in 1961, she received an invitation from the Lovelace Clinic in New Mexico to be one of twenty-five women tested for the new NASA Women's Astronaut Program. By this time, she had built up an impressive 4,300 hours of flying time, more than some of "Mercury 7" men. Cagle and the other twelve women endured all the testing of their physical strength, conditioning endurance, and adaptability and successfully completed the program and became known as the "Mercury 13". Even though she was able and willing, Cagle never made it to space due to a lack of funding. In 1995, Dateline aired a segment on these women with Turner Pictures later purchasing the movie rights. Over the years, Myrtle Cagle has logged more than 10,000 hours teaching hundreds of people how to fly. She has flown in transcontinental air races such as the 14th annual Women's International Air Race held in Mexico on May 11, 1964. Between 1961 and 1964, she was a flight instructor for the Robins Air Force Base Aero Club teaching students how to fly Cessna 150s. In 1986, she joined the ranks at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center as a co-op student for Americus' South Georgia Technical Institute and was assigned to the C-130 turbo-prop shop. In 1988, she attended South Georgia Technical Institute for her A&P license, becoming the second female graduate in the school's history.
Qualifications: Qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,500 flight-hours/10 years experience, bachelor's degree or equivalent, under 40 years old, under 180 cm height, excellent physical condition.. Randolph Lovelace was director of the clinic where the Mercury astronauts had undergone their physical examinations. He and Jacqueline Cochran, the first American woman to break the sound barrier, wanted to prove that women were equally qualified to be astronauts. In early 1961 they arranged for 20 highly qualified female pilots to take the same physical tests undergone by the Mercury astronauts. Thirteen passed the tests, but NASA maintained its position that astronauts had to be qualified test pilots (all of whom were white males). One of the thirteen was the wife of a US Senator, and some congressional hearings were arranged. Despite the publicity NASA was still unwilling to place them in the official NASA training program.
Oddly enough, the selection of these women may have resulted in the first woman going into space after all. In May 1962 a Soviet delegation, including cosmonaut Gherman Titov and cosmonaut commander Nikolai Kamanin, visited Washington. Kamanin had been pushing for the flight of a Soviet woman into space since October 1961, and five Soviet female cosmonauts had just reported for training a month earlier. However the flight of a woman in space had little support from Chief Designer Korolev or Kamanin's military commanders. On May 3 Kamanin and Titov were invited to a barbecue at the home of astronaut John Glenn. Glenn, already politically-connected, was an enthusiastic supporter of the 'Lovelace 13'. Kamanin understood from Glenn that the first American woman would make a three-orbit Mercury flight by the end of 1962. Armed with the threat that 'the Americans will beat us', Kamanin was able to obtain a decision to go ahead with the first flight of a Soviet woman within weeks of his return. The Russians were obsessed with being first in space -- and even though NASA's female cosmonauts never materialised, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963.