The International Women’s Air & Space Museum (IWASM) presents a new exhibit featuring the mascot of the late aviatrix, Tracy Pilurs. This will be the first time the stuffed cat has been on display.
Pilurs was an airplane builder and mechanic, flight instructor, and aerobatics champion. She took her first flight lesson at the age of 16, but didn’t obtain her private license until the age of 30. By 1960 Pilurs had her commercial, flight instructor, and ground school ratings.
In 1962, Pilurs finished in 17th place in her first Powder Puff Derby. Around the same time, she was divorced and raising her six children alone. A year later, with the support of her children, Pilurs went on to place first in the 1963 Women’s National Aerobatics Championships.
As a family, Pilurs and her children built a Smith Miniplane that donned a color scheme of purple stripes on a white finish, in their garage. The plane was named the “Pretty Purple Puddy Tat”, and a purple stuffed animal cat became the official mascot, which was put on display at various air shows and after competitions. That plane resulted in a first place win at a 1965 aerobatics competition.
By 1976, Pilurs had added multi-engine, helicopter, hot air balloon, and aircraft/powerplant mechanics ratings to her already growing list of accomplishments.
Following a critical automobile accident which left Pilurs unable to continue her flying career, the “Pretty Purple Puddy Tat” plane floated around to various places. In 1996, Pilurs donated the plane to IWASM, on agreed terms of no one every flying it again. Complete restoration of the plane was finished in 1999, two months before Pilurs passed away from cancer.
The “Pretty Purple Puddy Tat” plane is a permanent static display within the museum. Due to the fragility of the stuffed cat mascot, it will only be on display a limited time concluding on January 15, 2017.
The museum offers free admission. Exhibit hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Office, gift shop and research center hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is located in the terminal of Burke Lakefront Airport, only seconds from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center. The mission of IWASM is to preserve the history of women in aviation and space and to document their continuing contributions today and in the future. In 1986 the museum opened in Centerville, Ohio. IWASM was welcomed to the City of Cleveland, Ohio in 1998, where you will find their home at Burke Lakefront Airport. Exhibits are in the lobby at Burke, as well as the west concourse, and are accessible seven days a week. For additional information please visit www.iwasm.org.