In addition to the more familiar names in aviation’s history like Earhart, Pancho Barnes and Bessie Colman, we found stories of other remarkable women represented there. This is a just a sampling…
Harriet Quimby, who, in 1911 was the first woman in the United States to earn a U.S. Pilot’s Certificate and later, the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Ruby Wine Sheldon, who didn’t learn to fly until age 41, then went on to organize and participate in air races. During a distinguished career flying missions for the U.S. Geological Survey and becoming the first civilian – man or woman – to achieve an instrument instructor rating for helicopters.
Jackie Cochran, referred to as the “Speed Queen,” at one time held more speed, distance and altitude records than any other pilot in aviation history.
Beverly Bass, American Airlines’ first woman Captain who, on September 11, 2001 suddenly found U.S. airspace closed and had to divert her trans-Atlantic flight to Gander, Newfoundland. That story and the amazing response of Newfoundland’s residents, has been made into an award-winning Broadway musical.
Nancy Harkness Love, after earning her pilot’s license in 1930 at the age of 16, became a test pilot for the first aircraft designed to use tricycle landing gear, and later, along with Jackie Cochran, formed the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), essential during WWII.
Eileen Collins, U.S. Air Force Colonel and test pilot who went on to make aviation history as the first female pilot of a Space Shuttle. Also, the more than 60 other women who have also traveled into space as astronauts/cosmonauts.
Tracy Pilurs, airplane builder and mechanic, flight instructor, air racer, two-time aerobatic champion and single mother of six, also built a Smith Miniplane in her own garage with her children and flew it to the EAA Fly-In in Rockford in 1964.
Jerrie Mock, who, also in 1964, became the first woman to fly solo around the world in a single engine Cessna 180 which now hangs in the National Air and Space Museum.
…and so many others.
Showcasing the stories and history of women in aviation is the mission of the International Women’s Air and Space Museum. It’s a reminder that our own Young Eagles events provide the opportunity to show girls and boys alike that there can be a bright future for everyone in the skies.
EAA Chapter 932