Jane Briggs Hart
Jane Cameron Briggs
October 21, 1921
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||June 5, 2015 (aged 93)|
|Spouse(s)||Philip A. Hart|
(1943-1976, his death)
|Parent(s)||Walter O. Briggs|
Jane "Janey" Briggs Hart (October 21, 1921 – June 5, 2015) was an honorable aviator. Hart earned her first pilot's license during World War II, and later became the first licensed female helicopter pilot in Michigan.
In the early 1960s, Hart was chosen to participate in the Lovelace Foundation's Woman in Space Program, a privately funded project designed to test women pilots for astronaut fitness by subjecting them to the same physical tests developed by NASA for astronauts. At the age of 40, Hart became one of only 13 women (later dubbed the Mercury 13) to qualify.
Hart was born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 21, 1921, to businessman Walter O. Briggs and Jane Cameron. She attended the Academies of the Sacred Heart in Detroit, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and Torresdale, Pennsylvania, and Manhattanville College in New York. In 1970, at age 49, she received her BA in anthropology from George Washington University in Washington, D.C..
On June 19, 1943, she married Philip Hart. The couple would go on to have nine children, one of whom died as a toddler. In 1958 Philip Hart was elected to the United States Senate, where he served until 1976.
Like her husband, Hart had an abiding interest in politics. She was active in her husband's political campaigns (including piloting him to campaign stops) and served as vice chairman of the Oakland County (Michigan) Democratic Committee. She was a founding member of the National Organization for Women, and served as board member and national convention delegate for the Birmingham, Michigan League of Women Voters.
While living in Washington, Hart gained a reputation as a non-conformist. She was also active and vocal in her opposition to the Vietnam War, which was sometimes awkward for her husband, the Senator. For example, in 1969 she was arrested in an antiwar demonstration at the Pentagon. In 1972, she announced her intention to stop paying federal income taxes, stating, "I cannot contribute one more dollar toward the purchase of more bombs and bullets". Despite this, Senator Hart was unwavering in his support for his wife even though he did not agree with many of her decisions.
After her husband's death, Hart donated several boxes of scrapbooks, photographs and newspaper clippings of her life as a senator's wife and aviator to the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library.