1. Marilyn Monroe
In 1942, young Norma Jean Dougherty married Jim Dougherty, a factory worker in Van Nuys, California. The following year, her husband enlisted in the Merchant Marine and, in 1944, he was sent to the Pacific Theater of World War II. Then, at just 18 years old, Norma Jean moved with her parents to Van Nuys and began working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory.
These photos of Monroe with her brown curls were taken by David Conover, (a U.S. photographer from the Army) when her name was still Norma and have been circulating the internet for years.
Although her main job at the factory was to spray aircraft with fire retardants, here she is seen assembling the OQ-2 radio plane (sometimes called the RP-5A, TDD-l, or “Dennymite” by its designer Reginald Denny), which was the world’s first mass-produced unmanned aerial vehicle.
This drone was a small radio-controlled aircraft powered by a two-cylinder, two-stroke piston engine. It featured two counter-rotating propellers and was launched by “a catapult.” If he survived target practice, he was retrieved by a parachute.
Later versions sold to the Army included landing gear, although the Navy did not include it. These Radioplane OQ-2s measured almost 2.74 meters long with a wingspan of just over 3.65 meters. Each one weighed 47 kilos.
It is not uncommon for Monroe to have worked making flying machines for war back then, as during WWII many men went to fight, and then factories and industries were taken over by women. There is even a famous poster that says “We Can Do It! / We can!” and the image has a woman in a factory uniform showing her strength.
2. Hedy Lamarr
As we are telling you, at that time it was common for women to start taking male jobs like Marilyn did, who worked assembling these drones, but long before that, Hedy Lamarr would be born, a woman who would have a lot to do with the development of technology. of drones.
Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress and one of the most iconic movie stars of her time, during World War II she dedicated herself to doing something very important: she invented a frequency hopping communications system for the Allies, which established the foundations of the GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi technology we use today.
When Hedy patented her technology and handed the patent over to the United States Navy, they sadly didn’t take it seriously. They said the invention was too cumbersome and not a useful military technology. What they meant was that it was unlikely that an actress and musical artist would have invented a technology that could serve them. It was state-of-the-art technology and some claim it could have shortened the war by a year or more and was the size of a watch face. Well, what does this have to do with drones?
We found evidence that Hedy’s patent was assigned to military contractors in the 1950s and that the technology was used in military drones and sonobuoys. She created the first system that allowed the development of a surveillance drone and contributed to science and technology’s great advances in the drone industry and evolution. These advances were used in Military satellites and from there they migrated to the GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi systems that we use today.
These two stories show us many things in common, two women, actresses, beautiful and intelligent who always had ties with drone technology, assembly, and development of these. Unfortunately, we also see that they were not recognized for their knowledge, because at that time they were only recognized for their work amid entertainment and cinema.
3. Mónica Abarca
Currently, this has changed, many women continue to revolutionize and create an impact in the drone and technology industry, one of them Mónica Abarca who leads qAIRa, a startup that offers sensors and automated drones to mining companies and municipal governments for the survey of parameters environmental. At just 26 years old, the mechatronic engineer develops drones and sensors for air quality monitoring –measuring gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and dust–, which in recent months has expanded the range of possibilities to include survey services for other environmental parameters.
Little by little the recognition and participation of women in the drone development industry is being obtained, Mónica, through an interview given to the source Infobae, tells us about some of the limitations of women in the area:
"In my career, we were 20% women. I think there is still a certain fear, even in the family sphere, that women study engineering, particularly the hardest ones, such as mechanics or mechatronics. It is a chip that must go changing. From school, girls should be taught that they can choose the career they want. This is achieved by giving visibility to women who have been successful and who are achieving interesting things".
At Simply Drones, we are proud to tell and extol the different stories in which women are protagonists in the development of the solar industry and drones. Keep learning more stories through our blog, by the way. Do you already know the story of Tesla and Drones? It will surely remind you of Hedy Lamarr’s, find it on our blog.
SOURCES, AUTHORS AND REFERENCES:
– Esteva, R. 2013. Marilyn Monroe armed drones for war.
– INFOBAE. 2019. The young woman who develops drones to improve air quality.
– Jewell, C. 2018. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. Interview with Alexandra Dean. WIPO
– López, E. 2021. What does Marilyn Monroe and aviation have to do with it?
– Stilwell, B. 2020. Marilyn Monroe’s first job was building drones for the military.