John M. White

Sabrina Patricia Jackintell, World Record Holding Aviatrix

Feb 16, 2024

Sabrina Patricia Jackintell was one of those remarkeable women who would not let anything stand in their way when it came to pursuing what they love.

For the most part, women do not get the recognition they rightly deserve, but those women competing in a male dominated world like aviation have to be twice as good as the men.

For women the world of aviation has been divided up into three distinct phases.

In the early days of aviation, after the Wright brothers showed powered flight was possible, aviation was a free for all and all comers, including women were welcome.

Then, during World War II women were essential to winning the war because all the men were flying all of the dangerous missions during the war.

But, after World War II there was minimal opportunity for women to compete in the male dominated world of professional aviation. 

Nonetheless, a number of intrepid women like Amelia Earhart continued to challenge aviation to accept them.

Today women are welcomed into professional aviation with open arms.

Sabrina Patricia Jackintell

Born January 31, 1940, Sabrina Jackintell (born Sadie Patricia Paluga), the second child of a steel worker who had emigrated to the US from Czechoslovakia.

When she attended Wilson High School in Youngstown, Ohio she began painting and one of her paintings was exhibited in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, OH in 1956.

Sabrina graduated from the University of Florda in 1960, and while attending the university began modelling, and was featured on the cover of Vogue Magazine.

While at university she met her husband, Jerry E. Jackintell who was also from Yougstown and a fellow student at the University of Florida.

A Spirited Young Woman

A  photograph of Sabrina Patricia Jackintell (FAI)
Sabrina Patricia Jackintell, World Record Holding Aviatrix.

Just a pretty face? Not on your life!

In 1965, at the young age of 25, Sabrina drove Art Arfon's jet-powered Green Monster at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  

On her first run she acheived a speed of 310 mph, but before she could make the second pass in the opposite direction within the required time limit mechanical problems with the card denied her the official Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) land speed record was not set.

Art Arfons’ General Electric J79-powered land speed record car, Green Monster.
Art Arfons Green Monster car at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

During her life, she lived in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and California. It was in Colorado where she developed her love for flying gliders.

Becoming a glider pilot is a challenging endeavor, and you can learn how challenging by reading The Glider Flying Handbook.

The Grob G102 Astir CS Glider

This glider (known as the "Club Standard) is a single-seat high performance sailplane, designed by Dipl.-Ing Dr. Burkart Grob e.K. and built by Burkhart Grob Flugzeugbau, Tussenhausen-Mattsies, Germany.

The glider is built primarily of fiberglass. It has retractable landing gear and a T-tail.

Specifications:

  • Length: 21 feet, 2.7 inches;
  • Wingspan: 49 feet, 2.6 inches;
  • Height: 4 feet, 1.6 inches;
  • Empty weight: 562 pounds,
  • Maximum flying weight: 990 pounds,
  • Miniumum pilot weight: 154 pounds (lighter pilots are required to carry water balast);
  • Maximum speed: 155 mph;
  • Maximum G-forces: + 5.3 gs, negative gs are prohibited.

 Three-view illustration of the Grob Aster CS (serial numbers 1438–1536), with dimensions. (Burkhart Grob Flugzeugbau)
A three dimensional view of the Grob Astir CS.

Sabrina Jackintell logged over an incredible 4,000 miles cross country in a glider, which resulted in many interesting situations for Sabrina.

For example, filing a flight plan (which fixed-wing aircraft pilots do) was a futile exercise because flying a glider you never knew for sure where you would wind up. 

Many times glider pilots run out of thermals and land in a field somewhere off airport.

You see, thermals are the lifeblood of a glider pilot.

During her time in Colorado Sabrina flew her Grob from the Black Forest Gliderport located near Pike's Peak.

Pike's Peak as seen from the Black Foewar Gliderport just north of Colorado Springs.
Pike's Peak as seen from the Black Foewar Gliderport just north of Colorado Springs.

The winds over the mountains created mountain waves, and when conditions were right would create a powerful updraft (or mountain wave), which were great for glider pilots.

Found in the mountain waves are beautiful lenticular (lens shaped) clouds that only form in mountain waves under particular conditions.

 

When pilots see lenticular clouds, they know the wave is working.

There is a special award for high altitude flight in a glider, called the Robert Symons Wave Memorial.

The memorial award consists of a beautiful wall plaque and a “Lennie Pin.”

Few pilots have ever seen a Lennie pin, much less been awarded one.

The Lennie pin has images of one, two, or three white lenticular clouds, nicknamed “Lennies,” set against a blue background with a silver rim.

The "Lennies" awarded to glider pilots who "ride the waves"
The Lennie award for pilots who "ride the waves".

A World Record

On February 14, 1979, flying her Grob Astir CS glider from the Black Forest Gliderport, Sabrina Patricia Jackingell soars to an altitude of 41,460 feet over Pike's Peak setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record and Soaring Society of America National Record for Absolute Altitude.

The record stands to this day.

The duration of this flight was 3 hours, 18 minutes.

Sabrina Patricia Jackintell as outfitted for her record setting attempt
Sabrina Patricia Jackintell as outfitted for her record setting flight.

However, this flight didn't come without a price on her body. She suffered from hypoxia once she climbed above 34,000 feet. At that altitude there was not enough positive atmosperic pressure for her lungs to absorb oxygen.

In addition, it is necessary for a pilot to exhale forcibly to empty their lungs which is the exact opposite of our natural instincts. 

If the oxygen system were to fail or malfunction at those altitudes the pilot would have only five to ten seconds of useful consciousness to solve the problem and fix it.

Not for the faint of heart to try!

Upon landing Sabrina found she was somewhat confused, had difficulty walking, and had difficulty lowering her landing gear and operating the dive brakes on her glider.

After 24 hours she had fully recovered and set the world record.

She had also earned a Lennie Pin with three "Lennies".

If you were to peruse the record book you would discover only 15 three-Lennie pins have ever been issued.

Of the twelve names on the list there is only one woman: Sabrina Jackintell!

Sabrina Jackintell passed away in Sebring, Florida on January 15, 2012, at the age of 71 years.

It can truly be said that Sabrina Jackintell left nothing at the bottom of the glass. 

In the meantime, keep your eyes safe and focused on what's ahead of you Hersch!

 

 

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