The setting: It’s the Golden Age of aviation, and one man decides to explore it with his wife and two little girls. He envisions flying to all 48 states to promote aviation, then flying all over the world in a Sikorsky Amphibian. Accompanying the family is a pet lion cub. While it sounds like the plot of a Walt Disney movie, it really happened, and is chronicled in “Heart of a Lion: The Story of Janet Lee Hutchinson Simpson,” by Connie Donaldson.
Simpson, now in her 80s, recalls fondly the days of flying around the world with her family and pet lion, Governor.
In 1932 when the family crashed off the coast of Greenland, the world’s media covered the search and rescue as front page news because they were celebrities. “We were also radio stars,” Simpson recalled during a interview with Sun ‘n Fun radio in April. “We worked with stars like Gary Cooper.”
When she grew up Simpson became a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). She was 18 when she joined, making her the youngest woman to be a WASP. She was also the smallest, standing just 5 feet, 3.5 inches tall.
After the termination of the WASP program, Simpson’s adventurous life did not slow down. She became a race horse trainer and a champion golfer. The story continues into Simpson’s later years and her successful battle with alcoholism. The paperback novel is 265 pages and includes photographs.
“Heart of a Lion: The Courageous Story of Janet Lee Simpson” is published by High Pitched Hum Publishing and available at HighPitchedHum.net and online booksellers.