There are a lot of heroes in the aviation industry, but as it’s Women’s History Month, we’d like to take some time to appreciate some of the women who changed the industry for the better. From the first flight across the Pacific, to the unsung heroes crunching numbers for NASA you may have heard about in the recent film Hidden Figures, check out these six women who’ve helped make air travel and aerospace exploration what it is today.
Baroness Raymonde de Laroche
While much of France was on the brink of World War I, there was one Parisian women with other plans on her radar. While her family was in the plumbing business, Baroness Raymonde de Laroche had a different career in mind. After years of study in her home country, she became the first female to obtain a pilot’s license on March 8, 1910.
Bessie Coleman is another noteworthy pilot in aviation history. As an African-American and Native American Women in the early 1900’s, she was not allowed to attend an aviation school in the United States. Unwilling to give up on her dreams, Coleman turned her sights to France where women were allowed to fly planes. In 1921, Coleman earned an international pilot’s license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in France. America would still not accept her as a commercial pilot, so she continued her education in Europe learning airplane stunts and complex flying maneuvers. Through her hard work and determination, Coleman became an international sensation by breaking barriers and doing things everyone told her she couldn’t do.
A list of powerful women in aviation is incomplete without Amelia Earhart. Her lifetime of aviation achievements ranges from being the first women to fly solo across the Atlantic, the first woman to fly nonstop from East Coast to West, and the first person to fly the over 2,400 miles from Oakland to Honolulu. In June of 1937, she began the infamous flight around the world that she would never finish.
If you saw the recent film Hidden Figures,you know Katherine Johnson and her team of unsung heros recently took the spotlight on the big screen. Describing Johnson as a math whiz is an understatement. Her calculations made much of NASA’s early space travel possible and much of the Space Race between the U.S. and Soviet Union is at her credit. In 2015, at age 97, President Barack Obama awarded her one of the country’s highest honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In terms of female astronauts, Sally Ride should be at the top of the list. In 1983, she became the first American woman in space while aboard the Challenger mission STS-7. She beat out over 1,000 applicants for the program and underwent NASA’s rigorous training program before entering space. After deploying communications satellites and conducting a variety of experiencing, her mission safely returned to Earth on June 24th.
One of the most recent women to make the list, Patty Wagstaff is a contemporary pioneer when it comes to flying. In 1991, she became the first women to become the U.S. National Aerobatic Champion. She won that title twice more and though she has since retired, she’s still recognized as one of the top women in modern aviation.
Happy Women’s History month to all of your ladies in aviation out there, fan, and hobbyists alike. To learn more about aviation products and services, visit our website today!
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.com licensed for reuse.