Who was Connie Wolf?
Great lives often reflect great partnerships. When an adventurous pilot named Abby Wolf, married his wife Constance “Connie” Wolf, she provided the ultimate complement to their partnership. At one point much later in her life she was one of only five women in the entire world to possess a valid airman’s certificate longer than fifty years.
Abby taught Connie to fly on their honeymoon. She and Abby took their first balloon ride together in 1951 over Zurich, Switzerland. The thrill of that ride inspired a life-long passion for Connie, but an unusually subdued Abby found himself “huddling in the bottom of this miserable laundry basket.” Consequently, while Connie went on to perform various and well-publicized balloon flights, Abby returned to pilot all manner of powered aircraft, never setting foot in a balloon again.
Connie abhorred hot air ballooning. It was “too hot, much too noisy, not what a person of character would fly”. Her balloons were filled with hydrogen. Not helium, Connie would have only the best, and that was hydrogen. She suspended a fluffy feather from a wisp of thread to see if she was climbing or descending.
In 1959, Connie duplicated the first balloon flight in America, exactly repeating what Jean Pierre Blanchard had done in 1793. Earlier, in 1951, she spent a frigid 40 hours and 18 minutes setting 15 world records, including taking the women’s endurance record away from two Russians.
In 1962, Connie was the first woman to cross the Alps in a balloon.
On the 200th anniversary of the Constitution she flew a balloon shaped like the Liberty Bell over Philadelphia.
When Connie wasn’t ballooning, she was flying with Abby.
It is said of this couple, “Abby liked airplanes with engines so you could GO somewhere. Connie preferred silent balloons, so you could BE somewhere”.
Connie Wolf and her husband shared a life-long love of aviation, adventure, and public service.