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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Osterud, Joann, 1945-2017



  • Existence: 1945 November 14 - 2017 March 12

Biographical Note: Joann Osterud

Joann Osterud was a stunt pilot who flew in airshows from the late 1970s through the 1990s.

Osterud was born on November 14, 1945 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When she was three her family moved to Seattle, Washington when her father took a position at the University of Washington. In 1968 Osterud graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she had majored in Political Science. During her summers she worked at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. She also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for one year, working towards a Master's degree which she never completed.

It was after graduating from Reed that Osterud began purusing aviation. She trained at Hillsboro Airport, near Portland, and then got her first pilot job with Lynden Air Transport. In 1975 she begain working for Alaska Airlines as their first female pilot. Three years later she was the fourth female graduate from United Airlines' training program and was the sixth female pilot they hired, in May 1978.

Meanwhile Osterud also flew as a stunt pilot in airshows, primarily in the western United States and Canada. She initially flew a Piper J-3 Cub, then a Stephens Akro, and finally a Sorrel Hiperbipe. In 1994 she donated her Akro to the Museum of Flight. During her career as a stunt pilot, she set many records. Her first record was on July 13, 1989 in North Bend, Oregon, for flying 208 outside loops, breaking Dorothy Hester Stenzel's 1931 record of 62 outside loops. On July 24, 1991 Osterud flew from Vancouver, British Columbia to Vanderhoof, British Columbia and set two flight records: the first for the longest flight upside down and the second for the longest flight upside down in one stretch.

Her stunt flying career ended on April 11, 1997 when she crashed at an airshow in Yuma, Arizona during her "Ring of Fire" stunt in which she would fly upside-down through a flaming ring multiple times and then cut a ribbon hung between two poles with the tail of the plane. She hit the runway while inverted and totalled her plane but was unscathed herself.

She was married to John Gregory Hull from 1971 to 1973 and then Robert H. Nottke from 1978-1984. She died in 2017.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Biographical Information Files - O

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with O: Oberth, Hermann [Rocketry and astronautics pioneer] Biographical sketchObituary, Seattle Times, December 30, 1989Photocopy of photograph O'Callaghan, Claud V. [General traffic manager, Varney Air Lines] "Varney Advertising Proves Profitable in Building Air Mail Volume," Air Transportation, September 1, 1928 ...

Joann Osterud Airshow Collection

Identifier: 2021-10-29-A
Overview Joann Osterud was a stunt pilot who flew in airshows from the late 1970s through the 1990s. Slides, photographs and audiovisual recordings in the collection document her stunt performances from her early career through 1990, including ones in her Stevens Akro plane which is in the Museum's collection.

Joann Osterud Record-Breaking Flight Photograph

 Collection — Folder: 1
Identifier: 2019-12-09
Content Description The Joann Osterud Record-Breaking Flight Photograph is a small collection consisting of a single photograph depicting of Joann Osterud flying upside-down in her Stephens Akro, July 24, 1991 from Vancouver, B.C. to Vanderhoof, B.C on a record-breaking flight. The photograph is in color and measures 8x10 inches. It is inscribed, "To Clarice and Tom, Thanks! Joann, Vancouver to Vanderhoof, 7/24/91". The people mentioned in the inscription were Clarice Osterud and Tom Hargiss, Joann's aunt and...

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