Katherine Stinson is not dead, even though her photograph was prominently displayed on The Washington Post's obituary page yesterday.
And even as The Post apologizes for its error, it salutes the achievements of both Katherine Stinson and the subject of the obituary, Katherine Stinson Otero. The two women shared not only names, but also remarkable aviation careers in a time when no one had heard of a women's liberation movement.
Katherine Stinson Otero, 86, who died July 8 at her home in Santa Fe, N.M., became in 1912 the fourth woman in the world to receive a pilot's license. A year later she cofounded the stinson Aircraft Company, which manufactured planes. She flew airmail routes in the United States and Canada in 1918, and that year set a record for the longest point-to-point flight on an airmail route -- more than 600 miles from Chicago to Binghamton, N.Y., to New York City.
Katherine Stinson, 58, received her pilot's license in 1939, and headed into a 32-year career with the Federal Aviation Administration. From 1941 until her retirement in 1973, Miss Stinson worked as an aeronautical engineer for the FAA -- and she, like Mrs. Otero, frequently took to airplanes in the course of her work.
Miss Stinson had also been an active member of the Soroptimist Club, at one point serving as international president. So there in the photograph files, from which The Washington Post takes its pictures of notable people, was an elegant 1962 photograph of Katherine Stinson.
The photograph of Katherine Stinson was put in the paper with the obituary of Katherine Stinson Otero, and as a startled Miss Stinson said over the telephone yesterday afternoon. "So you had me dead in the paper this morning."
Miss Stinson was gracious about it, and said the confusion had happened before. She had met Mrs. Otero only once, and people frequently mixed up the two pilots, she said. "There was a lot of confusion," Miss Stinson said, "all the years I was in the FAA."
Her friends were more alarmed, and spent much of yesterday morning calling The Post to point out that Katherine Stinson was very much alive, and living in Glendale, Calif. Indeed she is, and The Post regrets having mistakenly indicated otherwise.