When you think about aviation history most of the names and faces that come to mind are male, with the exception of Emilia Earhart of course! Today we would like to shed some light on the lesser-known women who have made their own incredible marks on the Aviation Industry.
• Emma Lilian Todd (1865) – She grew up with a love for mechanical devices and later became a self-taught inventor who is considered the first woman in the world to help design aircraft.
• Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman (1892) –The first Native American and African American woman to hold a pilot license, as well as the first African American to earn an International aviation license.
• Ruth Rowland Nichols (1901) – The first woman in 1924 to be licensed to fly a hydroplane. In 1927, she was one of two women licensed to fly transport planes. She holds more than 35 women’s aviation records. She set a transcontinental speed record in 1930, beating Charles Lindbergh’s record set earlier that year. She was the only woman to hold simultaneously the women’s world speed, altitude and distance records for heavy land planes before Amelia Earhart broke these records.
• Phoebe Omlie (1902) –The first female to receive an airplane mechanic’s license, the first licensed female transport pilot and the first female to be appointed to a federal position in the aviation field.
• Elsie MacGill (1905) – The world’s first female aircraft designer. Also known as the “Queen of the Hurricanes”, she worked as an aeronautical engineer during World War II.
• Helen Richey (1909) –As a pioneering female aviator, she earned her private license in 1930, at the age of 20. She began her career as an aerobatic pilot and ended up becoming the first woman to be hired as a commercial airline pilot in the United States.
• Elinor “The Flying Flapper of Freeport” Smith (1911) – In 1928, then 16, she earned national recognition as the youngest pilot to receive a license from the Federal Aviation Administration. In 1930, she was also voted, “best female pilot” by her peers, a group that included Amelia Earhart. Smith’s aviation records for endurance, altitude and speed in the 1920s and 30s led her to worldwide fame.
Without these lovely ladies, aviation would simply just not be the same. Happy #InternationalWomensDay!