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Woman Pilots

Woman Pilots: The Gender Progress Makers

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, the pilot is a woman! One of the…

From Amelia Earhart to Sally Ride: 5 Famous Women in Aviation

There have been many remarkable women who have contributed to the field of aviation throughout…

Why So Few Women Become Pilots and How We Can Change That

Only about 6% of commercial pilots are women. That number has been pretty consistent over…

How Women Have Changed the Face of Aviation

Women have had to fight for their place in society since the beginning of time.…
History of Women

The Interesting History of Women in Aviation

Many people who haven’t explored or dived deep into the world of aviation are often…

Most Influential Women in the Aviation and Aerospace

Gone are those days when women were confined to the home and kitchen. The times…

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Woman Pilots

Woman Pilots: The Gender Progress Makers

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, the pilot is a woman! One of the most prominent pioneers of gender development has been the aviation

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Woman Pilots: The Gender Progress Makers

Woman Pilots

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, the pilot is a woman! One of the most prominent pioneers of gender development has been the aviation industry. When looking at the top 100 pilots worldwide, almost half of them are women. This is an incredible statistic considering that just a few decades ago. Women pilots were practically unheard of.

From Amelia Earhart to Peggy Whitson, these women have paved the way for other females to take flight and achieve their dreams.

Women in Aviation

The history of women in aviation is long and fascinating, full of inspiring stories of brave and determined women who have fought for their place in the skies. From the early days of aviation, when women were first beginning to take to the air, to the present day, when female pilots are commonplace, the story of women in aviation is one of progress and achievement.

In the early days of aviation, women were not uncommonly treated as second-class citizens. They were often not taken seriously as pilots, and many thought they did not have the skills or abilities to fly an airplane. However, there were a few trailblazing women who proved doubters wrong and went on to achieve great things in aviation.

Women Pilots in the Military

In the military, women pilots are a minority, but they play an important role in the armed forces. They are often the first responders to emergencies and are responsible for transport missions and medical evacuations. They also provide close air support to ground troops.

Today, women serve in all branches of the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. And they are making a huge difference in how gender is viewed in the military.

Women Commercial Pilots

There are still many gender stereotypes and biases in the industry. Women face discrimination both in the hiring process and in their careers. They are often assumed to be less capable than their male counterparts and are passed over for promotions and leadership roles.

Despite these challenges, women have made significant progress in recent years. The number of female commercial pilots has been slowly but steadily increasing. More young women are enrolling in aviation programs and choosing careers as pilots. And as the stigma surrounding women in aviation fades, more companies are beginning to see the value of diversity in their pilot corps.

Women Commercial Pilots

The Future of Women in Aviation

The number of women in aviation is on the rise and the industry is changing to reflect the growing diversity within its ranks better. In recent years, women pilots have made significant strides in gender equality, both in terms of representation and opportunity.

And it’s not just commercial aviation seeing an increase in female participation. The military and private aviation are also welcoming more women into their ranks.

The future of women in aviation is bright and full of opportunity. As more and more women enter the field, we can expect to see even greater gender equality within the industry. This will benefit everyone involved, from passengers to airplane manufacturers alike.

Thanks to the brave and determined women who paved the way, today’s generation of female pilots can take their place in the cockpit and soar to new heights.

From Amelia Earhart to Sally Ride: 5 Famous Women in Aviation


There have been many remarkable women who have contributed to the field of aviation throughout history. From Amelia Earhart to Sally Ride, these women have inspired others to pursue their dreams and reach for the stars.

Women have been at the forefront of aviation, breaking records or blazing trails. Here are five famous women in aviation who made history.

1. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart is one of the most iconic figures in aviation history. She was the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean independently and set numerous other records during her lifetime. Sadly, she disappeared during a flight over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 and was never seen again.

Amelia Earhart

2. Bessie Coleman

The first female African American licensed pilot was Bessie Coleman. She overcame incredible odds to achieve her dream, as no schools would admit her because of her race and gender.

Coleman’s career was cut short when she was killed in a plane crash while preparing for an air show in Florida. But, despite her brief career, Coleman made a lasting impact on the world of aviation and inspired other women to pursue their dreams.

3. Sally Ride

In 1983, Sally Ride made history by going into space for the first time. A talented athlete, she was recruited by NASA after completing her Ph.D. in physics. She went on two space shuttle missions before retiring from astronaut life in 1987.

After leaving NASA, Sally became a teacher and an advocate for science education for young girls.

After the Challenger disaster, Ride continued to work for NASA as a special assistant to the administrator and as head of the Space Station Task Group. She later left NASA in 1989 to become a professor at the University of California, San Diego.

4. Julie Payette

Julie Payette is a Canadian astronaut who has completed two space shuttle missions, including a stint as commander of the International Space Station.

She is also an accomplished musician and has served as the governor-general of Canada since 2017.

5. Eileen Collins

Eileen Collins (born 1956) is an American retired astronaut and former military officer. She was the first female Space Shuttle commander She flew on three different space shuttle missions. In 2005, she retired from NASA after 27 years of service.

In addition to her aviation accomplishments, Collins has also written two books about her experiences as an astronaut.

Eileen Collins

6. Jacqueline Cochran

Jacqueline  Cochran was born in 1906 in Pensacola, Florida. She was a talented pilot and a leading figure in promoting women in aviation. She joined the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II and flew many combat missions. After the war, she continued to fly and set numerous world records.

She was the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound and the first woman to pilot a jet aircraft. Cochran paved the path for upcoming generations of female pilots and inspired female pilots worldwide.

Whether you want to become a commercial pilot or like to learn how to fly for fun, you have plenty of options. So get out there and start exploring the world from above!

Why So Few Women Become Pilots and How We Can Change That


Only about 6% of commercial pilots are women. That number has been pretty consistent over the years, and it’s not for lack of interest or ability. So what’s the reason for the discrepancy?

The answer is a little complicated, but it comes down to three main factors: gender bias, the high cost of training, and a lack of role models.

In this blog post, we will explore each of these factors in more detail and suggest some ways that we can change the narrative and get more women into the cockpit.

Why So Few Women Become Pilots?

There’s no doubt that flying is an exhilarating experience. For many women, the idea of taking to the skies and piloting a plane is a dream come true. But, unfortunately, that dream is often short-lived because so few women have become pilots. In fact, women make up just six percent of all commercial pilots globally.

There are a number of reasons why so few women become pilots.


  • First, there’s the issue of accessibility. Not everyone has the opportunity to learn how to fly, and even fewer have the chance to become professional pilots.
  • Issue of affordability. Flying lessons and getting a pilot’s license can be expensive.
  • Flying is still primarily considered a male-dominated field and it can be an expensive hobby.
  • And finally, there’s the issue of confidence. Many women simply don’t feel confident enough to pursue a career in aviation.

There are also some practical considerations that can make flying more difficult for women. For example, many planes have been designed with men’s bodies in mind, making them less comfortable for women. And while there are a growing number of female flight instructors, they’re still outnumbered by their male counterparts.

So how can we change this? How can we inspire more women to pursue careers as pilots?

How We Can Change That

We can start by encouraging more young women to take an interest in flying. This means breaking down the barriers that make it seem like an unattainable goal. We can also provide financial assistance and scholarships specifically for women who want to become pilots.

Women might be more likely to work in aviation if there were more female role models in the field. Finally, raising public knowledge of the achievements of female pilots can aid in dispelling some preconceptions about this profession being exclusively reserved for men.

In addition, we need to support female pilots once they’ve made it into the cockpit. This means creating an inclusive culture within the aviation industry and making sure that women have the same opportunities as men to progress in their careers. Only then will we see more women becoming pilots – and making a real difference in the skies.

There are many reasons why so few women become pilots, but the most important thing is that we can change that. By encouraging more women to enter the field of aviation, we can make a huge difference in the industry.

Not only will this help to close the gender gap in piloting, but it will also lead to better safety standards and increased innovation. So let’s encourage more women to take up flying – it’s good for everyone!

How Women Have Changed the Face of Aviation


Women have had to fight for their place in society since the beginning of time. In many industries, they are still fighting for equality.

One industry in particular where women had to break through barriers is aviation. For years, aviation was a male-dominated field. But slowly and surely, women have been making their mark and proving that they are just as capable as their male counterparts.

Since the early days of aviation, women have been making their mark on the industry. Women have been breaking barriers and setting records from the Wright sisters to Amelia Earhart to Sally Ride.


Women in the Military

Since the beginning of time, women have had to fight for their place in society. They’ve been told they’re not strong enough, smart enough, or capable enough to do certain things – including serving in the military.

But women have always proven those doubters wrong; today, they make up a significant part of the aviation community. According to a recent study by the Department of Defense, women make up nearly 15% of all active-duty military personnel.

And while they’re still not allowed to serve in combat positions in most military branches, they are making great strides in breaking down those barriers.

Women have served in the military since World War I, when they were first recruited as nurses and support staff. However, it wasn’t until the end of World War II that women started to be welcomed in the aviation industry.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program was established in 1943, and over 1,000 women served as pilots during WWII. After the war ended, however, the WASP program was disbanded, and women were again relegated to support roles.

It wasn’t until 1976 that women were allowed to fly military aircraft again, and it wasn’t until 2013 that the Pentagon lifted its ban on women serving in combat positions.

Women in Commercial Aviation

The percentage of female pilots has nearly doubled since 2010.

This significantly increased from when women were not even allowed to fly airplanes. It was in 1973 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that airlines could not discriminate against hiring female pilots.

Since then, women have been breaking barriers in the aviation industry and proving they are just as capable as their male counterparts. Today, many successful female pilots are flying for major airlines worldwide.

Commercial Aviation

The Future of Women in Aviation

There is no doubt that women have changed the face of aviation. They have broken through the glass ceiling and are flying high in the skies. But what does the future hold for women in aviation?

There are currently more women pilots than ever before, and this trend is set to continue. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. There is s long way to go before gender equality is reached in aviation.

We are starting to see benefits from the numerous programmes that are being undertaken to encourage more women to pursue careers in this field. These initiatives are essential, but we also need to change the culture within aviation if we want to see more women succeed.

The future of women in aviation is bright. We have come so far, and there is no turning back.

The Interesting History of Women in Aviation

History of Women

Many people who haven’t explored or dived deep into the world of aviation are often in awe when they learn about the profound role women have played in the history of aviation.

They have inspired many young girls and shown by example to boldly follow their dreams and not conform to rigid gender roles.  If you want to learn more about the history of women in aviation, read on:

Women Have Been Interested in Aviation Since 1908

There is something liberating and joyful about the idea of soaring high in the skies and defying all.  Back in the early 1900s, women had to go through a great deal of hardship and scrutiny in order to fly in the skies.  They would generally be restricted to general aviation and be given jobs of secondary importance.

Many women in the aviation world look up to Harriet Quimby who was the first woman to receive a pilot’s license.  She was a prolific writer who felt the desire to fly high in the skies and write about her flight experiences.  The magazine company she worked for was willing to pay for her flight lessons, and she soon found herself in the aircraft, flying across the English Channel.

Women Had an Immense Role to Play in World War 2

World War 2 was a time of great conflict and grief.  Many men lost their lives, and the country experienced great economic loss.  In order to meet the need of the hour, many bold women rose to the occasion and received training to fly military planes.  An elite group was formed, which was named the ‘Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs).  Unfortunately, the contribution of the WASPs was neglected and overlooked through the years.

However, it did mark the entry of women into the aviation world.  They started receiving many serious job roles.  They became more involved in the process of aircraft production and testing.  Many women also became flight instructors and flight controllers.

Women Made Many Incredible World Records

Women showed tremendous talent and skill in the flight.  They created and broke many unbelievable world records.  Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly all by herself across the United States, while Geraldine Mock was the first woman to fly around the world.  Bessie Coleman was the first African American and Native American pilot.  She was extremely popular and was envied by others for her mind-blowing flying abilities.

Amelia Earhart

Aviation in the Modern Day

Many things have changed over the years, and the world has realized that women have plenty to contribute to the aviation industry.  At present, many women get to experience the joy of flying on military and commercial flights.  The gender bias in the aviation industry has died down considerably, and women.

Most Influential Women in the Aviation and Aerospace


Gone are those days when women were confined to the home and kitchen. The times have changed drastically, and women are making a global mark in every possible sector. One such field is aviation in the aerospace arena, which was previously a male-dominated field. Over the years, many women have made their firsts’ in this sector. As a result, women have become an integral part of the aerospace and aviation industries, from engineers and astronauts to pilots. If you wish to know about the top women who have paved their way into the aviation and aerospace arena, read ahead to find out!

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

Amelia is one of the top names that pop up when speaking about women in aviation. In addition, Amelia was the only person to fly a solo trip across the Pacific Ocean. These two achievements boosted her aviation career.

Despite her drastic fame in the aviation field, she was famous for her disappearance in 1937, when she attempted to circumnavigate the globe with her navigator Fred Noonan. Finally, her dream was finally fulfilled by Geraldine Jerrie Mock, the first female pilot to fly around the world.

Phoebe Omlie

After graduating, Phoebe quickly joined the drama field and worked as a secretary. However, over time she grew bored with her career choice and convinced the airport manager to take her on a plane. This sparked her aviation journey. She bought her own plane and started with flight wing stunts by walking on the wings, performing parachute jumps, and so on. Her popularity grew, and she was also asked to perform stunts in the movie The Perils of Pauline. In 1927, after being approached by CAA, she became the first woman to be an aircraft mechanic and a female transport pilot. She also flew across the Rocky Mountains in a light aircraft.

Harriet Quimby

Harriet was the first woman to receive her pilot license in 1911. In 1912, she flew across the English Channel. Unfortunately, since the Titanic ship sank two days earlier to her achievement, her accomplishment was overshadowed in the news. Hence she remained bleak to the popularity she well deserved. She had a gruesome end in 1912 when the aircraft she was in unexpectedly pitched forward, throwing her and her passenger from the plane. Even today, the reason for the flight’s failure still remains a mystery.

Elsie MacGill

In 1929, Elsie was the first woman to earn a degree in aeronautical engineering. She was also the first woman in Canada to achieve an Electrical engineering degree. Her passion for repairing things and checking for damages earned her a popular name in the aerospace field. Although she didn’t fly, she accompanied pilots on test flights and also design them.

Legendary Female Aviators That the World Is In Awe Of

Female Aviators

Aviation can be an exciting and dangerous realm to explore. There have been many incredible women that have left a strong mark in the history of aviation. They managed to challenge and break gender stereotypes with grace and put the world in sheer awe of what they were capable of. This article will list some legendary female aviators that dared to follow their hearts and soar high:

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart is still an inspiration to many young girls around the world for her courage and tenacity. She was born in Kansas and took up the exciting challenge of flying across the Atlantic Ocean all by herself in the plane.

Amelia Earhart

Unfortunately, she met a tragic end on her last flight from Miami. She wanted to transform her dream of flying her plane around the world into a reality. However, her radio lost contact, and she was not found.

Baroness Raymonde de Laroche

This fierce woman from Paris left a strong mark on aviation history. She was the first woman in the world to get a license to fly. She was also a talented actress. All aviation enthusiasts know about the spectacular risks she took in her life.

She suffered many car and aircraft crashes in her life, but they never broke her spirit. She passed away on 18th July 1919 when she was testing an experimental aircraft with another pilot.

Jacqueline Cochran

Jacqueline Cochran has an interesting origin story. She was born as Bessie Lee Pittman. She was a simple Florida girl who got orphaned early in her childhood and received no education. At the young age of 22, she completely fell in love with aviation and went on to break many altitudes and distance records.

She is fondly remembered for her habit of doing makeup in the cockpit. She served as the director of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots and received the Distinguished Service Medal as well.

Emily Howell Werner

Emily Howell Warner grew up in Denver. She felt the desire to fly a plane when she boarded a flight and went inside the cockpit for the first time in her life. She was in awe of all the strange controls and wanted to try them.

She is well known as the first woman to captain and fly a commercial passenger flight. She is also popular for being a commander of the first ever commercial crew made up entirely of women.

Emily Howell Werner

Peggy Whitson

Peggy Whitson is a famous name in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She was a simple girl in Iowa who wanted to learn how to fly so badly that she sold her chickens to pay for the lessons.

She is recognized as the oldest woman to have gone into space. She was in so love with space that she broke the record for the longest spacewalking time. In her lifetime, she went into space at least eight times.

Major Nicole Malachowski and Major Samantha Weeks

Nicole Malachowski

As a member of the Thunderbirds, she flew F-16 Fighting Falcon and spend over 200 days on the road. Major Nicole Malachowski performed with the Thunderbird team at the Chicago Air and Water Show in August 2007. Her last performance with the Thunderbird team was in November 2007.

A graduate of the Air Force Academy, she has been an Air Force officer for 11 years, a fighter pilot in the F-15E for 8 years, and a pilot with the Thunderbirds for 18 months. She’s married to an F-15E WSO, Her call sign is “FiFi”.

Maj. Nicole Malachowski entered the Air Force in 1996 upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy. She served as an F-15E Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander with the 494th Fighter Squadron in Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. She has logged over than 1,300 hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 1,000 hours in the F-15E. Other aircraft she has flown are: T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-15E, F-16C/D.

Major Nicole Malachowski provided air support over Kosovo in 1998 during the Bosnian/Serb conflict and on Election Day in Iraq. Major Malachowski served four months in Operation Iraqi Freedom – F-15 Strike Eagle fighter. She is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Major Samantha Weeks
A second female pilot joined the Thunderbird team in June 2007. Major Samantha Weeks flies #6 – opposing solo pilot. Major Weeks is a 1997 graduate of the Air Force Academy. She served with the 12th Fighter Squadron as a flight commander and instructor pilot, flying the F-15C/D “Eagle.” She has flown missions for the 94th Fighter Squadron over Iraq. She flies the F-16 “Fighting Falcon with the Thunderbirds. She’s from Rome, New York and married to an USAF major, Curtis Weeks.

The President of the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots, Patricia Noyes Prentiss, visited Chicago to watch Nicole and Samantha fly in the Chicago Air and Water Show. Ms. Prentiss and Editor-in-Chief of the 99 News magazine, Bobbi Roe, interviewed the Thunderbird pilots at their staging airport before the air show. Both Thunderbird female pilots are members of the prestigious international association of women pilots with over 5,000 members worldwide.

Hanna Reitsch, The First Woman Astronaut and Test Pilot, Part Two

Woman Astronaut

Hanna Reitsch, Nazi Germany’s celebrated woman test pilot who had flown the VI rocket bomb in sub orbital flight in the early 1940’s — 20 years before the first American spaceman — was actually history’s first astronaut.
Hanna started with gliders. Her passion for the air soon overtook her interest in medicine, and she left medical school to become a full-time glider pilot (Germany had been forbidden to build “war planes” after WWI, which meant that most of the planes constructed in Germany were built without engines). She went on to become an instructor in gliding at the Horngerb in Swabia and also worked as a stunt pilot in films, but she really distinguished herself in competition.

She soon became Nazi Germany’s ideal woman, young and vivacious, daring and highly publicized by the Nazi propaganda machine.
If she hadn’t been on the losing side and if she had been later willing to admit the horrors of the Nazi regime, Hanna Reitsch would be honoured in history books as the greatest woman pilot.

At a time when women were expected to stay in the kitchen, she was one of the world’s top glider pilots. She held 40 world aviation records, was the first to cross the Alps in a glider, first to fly a helicopter and first to fly a jet plane. She was the first woman awarded the iron Cross and was the world’s first woman test pilot.

History records she flew into a burning Berlin at night in the last days of the war and landed a small plane safely on a street full of firing Russian tanks. A direct hit on her plane mangled the foot of the pilot, Ritter von Greim, who had been summoned by Adolf Hitler.

Hanna stayed three days in the Hitler underground bunker then flew the last plane out of Berlin before it fell to the Russians. Her eye-witness account of the last days of Hitler are an important part of history and her flights in the V-1 rocket are a first chapter in space travel.

In 1953 Hanna won the bronze medal in the International Gliding Championships in Madrid, Spain. In 1957 she set two women’s altitude records for gliders. She also continued to work as a research pilot. In 1959, she traveled to India, where she became friends with Indira Ghandi and Prime Minister Nehru, whom she took on a glider flight over New Delhi. In 1962, she founded the National School of Gliding in Ghana, where she stayed until 1966. Always drawn to people in power, she was friend with Ghana’s president, Kwame Nkrumah and flew for him until he was deposed in 1966. She reported these experiences in a 1968 book, Ich Flog fur Kwame Nkrumah.

She was accepted as a member of the American Test Pilots’ Association and was received by President John Kennedy in the White House in 1961. A photo shows her standing near Kennedy, not wearing her self-designed uniform but a dress and carrying a woman’s handbag. She spent her last years quietly. The darling of Nazi Germany was a post-war outcast. Germans who adored her later shunned her. Hanna Reitsch died by a heart attack at 67while was in bed at Frankfurt, Germany one year after setting a new women’s distance record in a glider. She never married, saying her man died in the war.

The Amazing Aviatrix Elinor Smith

Amazing Aviatrix

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Smith could not have guessed in a million years that the baby girl born to them on August 17, 1911 would become the ambitious and record-breaking girl-pilot she turned out to be. Their freckled-faced daughter Elinor fell madly in love with airplanes when she took her first ride at the age of six.elsmith3.gif

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Smith could not have guessed in a million years that the baby girl born to them on August 17, 1911 would become the ambitious and record-breaking girl-pilot she turned out to be. Their freckled-faced daughter Elinor fell madly in love with airplanes when she took her first ride at the age of six.It was a glorious afternoon in 1918, shortly after W.W. I., when she and her brother Joe took a plane ride in a potato patch near Hicksville, Long Island. The peculiar looking airplane was from France, a Farman Pusher, made of canvas, wood and varnish. There they were, two little towhead kids strapped together in the cockpit, utterly enchanted as breathtaking scenes scrolled beneath the wings.

One ride led to another. Not surprisingly, the Smith children were Monsieur Gaubert’s best customers that unforgettable summer. During one of these high-flying adventures, he placed Elinor’s small hands on the controls. Because of her natural touch, he predicted she would fly with the great ones some day.

Elinor Smith does everything with a flourish. She soloed at 15; three months later she set an altitude record of 11,889 feet in a Waco 9. In September 1927, at the age of 16, she became the youngest licensed pilot on record. Another significant distinction came her way in her 16th year when Orville Wright finalized her Federation Aeronautic Internationale license.In 1928 Elinor broke into the headlines in a spectacular way by flying under New York’s four East River bridges. This unrivaled incident came about as a dare, but she prepared for it as though it were going to be an Olympic event. After studying the weather, the tides, and even the construction of the bridges, she scheduled this daring exhibition for mid-October.

One bright and clear Sunday, Elinor awakened to near-perfect conditions, with little or no wind. Consequently, early in the morning, she and her friends pushed the Waco 9 elsmith1.gifout of the hangar. She hopped in the cockpit and did a final run-up of the OX5 engine. Just then, someone jumped up on the wing-step and gently shook her shoulder. Startled, she looked up into the handsome face of the world’s Number One hero, Charles Lindbergh. He grinned as he said, “Good luck, kid, keep your nose down in the turns.” This message was so heartening that she and the Waco soared aloft like a couple of dry leaves in a high wind.It was a risky venture, but Elinor made history that day. Her career took off from there, and her celebrity preceded her from then on.

Other records that Elinor set were a solo endurance record at 13-1/2 hours in an open cockpit Bruner-Winkle bi-plane, executed in zero degree weather, January 1929; in April 1929 she re-set the same record at 26-1/2 hours in a Bellanca CH monoplane. When she landed the big six-passenger Bellanca at Curtiss Field, the press corps was stunned, for here she was at age 17 flying a craft heavier in horsepower and weight than had ever been flown by a female. That feat certainly hit the headlines and drew a crowd.In May 1929, she set a woman’s world speed record of 190.8 mph in a Curtiss military aircraft. In June 1929, the Irving Chute Co., hired Elinor to fly a Bellanca Pacemaker on a 6,000-mile tour of the United States. At the Cleveland air races, she unveiled the first mass parachute drop (seven men) done up to that time. Thus, Elinor became the first female Executive Pilot. She was 18 years old at the time.

In 1929 she partnered the first women’s refueling record of 42-1/2 hours with Bobbi Trout as her co-pilot. Because of Elinor’s extensive experience in aerobatics, she was chosen to do the more difficult and intricate contact flying, with Bobbi Trout handling the fueling hoses. In March 1930, she set a world’s altitude record of 27,419 feet, breaking the existing record by almost a mile. In May 1930 at the age of 18, she became the youngest pilot, male or female, ever granted a Transport License by the U.S. Department of Commerce.Of all the awards conferred on Elinor, her most prized one came in October 1930 when her peers, the licensed pilots across the country, selected her as “Best Woman Pilot in America,” with Jimmy Doolittle selected as “Best Male Pilot in America.”

In March 1931 she re-set the Womens’ Altitude Record at 32,576 feet at Roosevelt Field, but due to a barograph failure she was unable to claim a world’s record. However, it justified the claim of G.M. Bellanca, the airplane’s designer, that his was the only six- passenger aircraft to reach anything approaching an over-the-weather altitude.

By now, Elinor had reached her goal to be recognized by Lady Mary Heath and Amelia Earhart. Reminiscing today about those with whom she worked and played, she laughingly says, “But now I’m the last leaf on the tree.” In 1931, a wealthy sponsor purchased a Lockheed Vega for Elinor to use on a non-stop flight to Rome. Unfortunately, due to the depression, this flight had to be cancelled. But her career stayed in high gear as she stunted for the movies, air shows, and fund-raisers for the homeless and needy as the depression deepened. In the midst of her budding aviation career, she met Patrick Sullivan, noted New York state legislator and attorney. He eventually won Elinor’s heart; they married in 1933. She then settled down to the job of being a suburban housewife and raising their four children.

Following her husband’s death in 1956, she re-entered aviation by the way of the military, through membership in the Air Force Association. This gave her the opportunity to fly the T-33 Jet Trainer, as well as the C-119s on military paratroop maneuvers. Fast-forward to March of 2000, when Elinor was invited to fly NASA’s Challenger vertical motion simulator at the Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, California. She was awarded a certificate that states: “This certifies that Elinor Smith successfully landed the Space Shuttle by Simulation in the Vertical Motion Simulator, the world’s largest Motion Simulator.” Elinor is the oldest pilot to achieve this honor. Her response: “It’s a spectacular ride. Everything about it is thrilling, but perhaps the most gratifying is that the entire support crew was made up of females. My instructor, the operator and the assistant were all women.”

At the age of 90, challenges and opportunities are still offered to Elinor. In April 2001 she was invited to fly an experimental aircraft, the C33 Raytheon AGATE, Beech Bonanza from NASA’s base at Langley AFB, Virginia, thus coming full circle in a career and life in aviation, which started in a Hicksville, Long Island potato field, went on to simulated space travel, then culminated in the most sophisticated general aviation aircraft developed to date. Elinor now lives in Santa Cruz, California, where she stays busy as a speaker and consultant to local and national museums. Her book, Aviatrix, (Harcourt Brace) was published in 1981. In the preface, she wrote: ”I had been brought up to think that anyone could do anything he or she put his or her mind to, so I was shocked to learn that the world had stereotypes it didn’t want tampered with. In an age when girls were supposed to be seen and not heard, look beautiful, and occasionally faint, I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.”

But now the airlines and the military are finally letting down the bars to admit qualified young women, so this is a good time to recall the difficulties most women fliers encountered during our early struggles for recognition and employment.”

Why did we persist in a business that offered so few financial rewards and took lives at such a cruel rate? It’s a question that had as many answers as there were pilots. In my case it was the daily challenge and the sheer beauty of flight that drew me back again and again. It was such a wonderful age to fly through. I was privileged to know all of those gallant pilots, both men and women, and gifted designers. Their efforts should never be forgotten nor their triumphs overlooked. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have participated and played a small part in it. “To most people, the sky is the limit; to Elinor the sky is home.”