Pioneer Hall of Fame

The Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame was established in 1992 to honor women who have made significant contributions as record setters, pioneers, or innovators. Special consideration is given to individuals or groups who have helped other women be successful in aviation or opened doors of opportunity for other women. Each year, the organization solicits nominations from throughout the aviation industry for the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame. We salute these distinguished members of the Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2008 Pioneer Hall of Fame
Click here for requirements and an application form.

2003 Women in Aviation's 100 most influential women in the aviation and aerospace industry


Moya Olsen Lear was born to Lillian and John Olsen of the famous Olsen and Johnson vaudeville team. After attending Ohio State University and Pace Institute of New York City, she worked as her father's assistant and secretary when Olsen and Johnson's Helzzapoppin' was the longest running hit in Broadway history. Into that backstage hubbub came William Powell Lear, avionics genius and entrepreneur, who wooed her and, in 1942, wedded her. They raised four children while sharing in the staggering success of the Lear autopilot, the Learstar, and Learjet. As her husband's partner and confidante, she took over his last great project, the Lear Fan, upon his death in 1978. Serving as chairman of the board of Lear Avia, Inc., she brought the airplane to its successful first flight. Entertaining, informal, and witty, Mrs. Lear is a popular speaker, and has been awarded six honorary doctorates, as well as an impressive list of other honors.

Emily Howell Warner was the first permanent female pilot for a scheduled U.S. passenger airline. She took her first airplane ride when she was 17, and immediately decided on aviation as a career. She first sought a job at Frontier Airlines in 1968, and renewed her application frequently. After she turned 30, she lost all hope of being hired, especially after watching her own former students, who happened to be male, being hired. Finally, in January 1973, Frontier agreed to take the bold step of hiring a woman. She initially flew as a first officer on Convair 580's and de Havilland Twin Otters. In 1976, she became the first female U.S. airline captain, flying a Twin Otter. Warner then became captain of a Boeing 737 for United Parcel Service. In 1974, she became the first woman member of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). In 1990, she retired from UPS to become a Federal Aviation Administration examiner.

Fay Gillis Wells abandoned college in 1929 for flying. Three days after making her first solo flight, she was invited to take a ride in an experimental aircraft while the pilot maneuvered through some acrobatics. While flying upside down, the plane fell apart, but Wells managed to survive with her parachute. This unplanned adventure resulted in Wells being hired by the Curtis Flying Service as saleswoman and demonstrator. It also earned her the distinction of first woman member of the Caterpillar Club for aviators who parachuted from disabled aircraft. Wells, along with Amelia Earhart, was a co-founder of the Ninety-Nines. In the early 1930's Wells was a free-lance correspondent in the Soviet Union for the New York Herald Tribune, the Associated Press and aviation magazines. While there, she became the first American woman to pilot a Soviet civil aircraft, and was the first foreigner to own a glider in the Soviet Union.

Edna Gardner Whyte - biography coming soon

Jeana Yeager grew up in Texas but moved to Santa Rosa, California in 1977 where she studied energy, aerospace design and commercial engineering draftsmanship. In March of 1981, with partner Dick Rutan, Yeager founded Voyager Aircraft, Inc. where she devoted herself exclusively to the building, testing, developing and flying of the Voyager for its around the world, non-stop, non-refueled flight. On December 14, 1986, Yeager and Rutan began their history-making flight in the Voyager, flying the maximum circumference of the globe in nine days, three minutes and forty-four seconds.


Nancy Hopkins Tier started flying in November 1927 at Hoover Field in Arlington, Virginia. In 1930 she entered the "Women's Dixie Derby," a 2,000mile air race from Washington to Chicago, and was the only woman to enter the 5,000-mile Ford Reliability Air Race. She won the New England Air Race in 1971 and placed several times. Tier joined the Civil Air Patrol in 1942, where she served for 18 years. She was the first woman to receive the rank of Colonel as Wing Commander of Connecticut. She also served eight years on the National Conunander Advisory Staff and received the Exceptional Service Award and the Meritorious Award.

Evelyn "Bobbi" Trout knew she would learn to fly from the day she saw her first airplane. Her first ride was in 1922 in an OX5 powered Jenny. By age 22 she had earned enough money to take flying lessons and became the fifth woman in the U.S. to obtain her transport license, She also became a demonstration and test pilot for the Golden Eagle Aircraft Company. One of many records Trout set was the world's record for solo endurance flight for women in 1929. The flight lasted 12 hours and 1 1 minutes. She flew in the first Woman's Air Derby from Santa Monica to Cleveland, and also set a refueling endurance record in 1929.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were formed in August of 1943 as an adjunct to the Army Air Forces' war effort. The organization was made up of two civilian-flying groups - the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron and the Women's Hying Training Detachment. Under the guidance of Jacqueline Cochran, the WASP became involved in all aspects of military flying operations, with the exception of combat and overseas ferrying. More than 1,000 WASP pilots flew over 70 million miles and delivered 12,650 airplanes across the country during their time of operation. The WASP program was suspended in December 1944.


Mary Feik overhauled her first auto engine when she was 13 years old. She turned to airplae engines at 18 and taught aviation mechanics for the U.S. Army Air Corps. During WW II, Feik became an expert on several fighter planes, and is credited with becoming the first woman engineer in research and development for the Air Technical Service Command. She flew more than 5,000 hours as a B-29 flight engineer, engineering observer and pilot in fighter, attack, bomber, cargo and training aircraft. Felk is a professional restorer of antique and classic aircraft and has worked at the National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility

Olive Ann Beech, along with her husband Walter, co-founded Beech Aircraft Company in 1932. She served as secretary-treasurer and director until 1950, when her husband died. She then took over as President and CEO of the company, and transformed the Beech Aircraft into a multimillion-dollar, international corporation. She served as chairman of the board from 1968 until 1982. She was chairman emeritus at the time of her death in 1993.

Evelyn Bryan Johnson received her private pilot's license in 1945, her commercial rating in 1946, and her flight instructor's certificate in 1947. In 1949, she purchased half interest in Morristown (Tennessee) Flying Service and in 1962, purchased her partner's interest and became full owner and airport manager. In 1982 she sold Morristown Flying Service to devote more time to flight instructing and examinations. Johnson has been a flight instructor for 45 years. She has given flight examinations for various licenses and certificates for the FAA to more than 9,000 applicants. In 1991, she passed her 50,000th hour of logged flight time, believed to be the most ever accumulated by a woman pilot.

Shortly after Jessie Woods eloped in 1928 with her husband to be, Jimmie, he formed the Flying Aces Air Circus. They did not realize they were making aviation history as they created the longest running of America's flamboyant air circuses. For 10 years, the show continued week after week, with Jessie as the leading lady. She did it all. She stunted airplanes as a pilot, scampered about on wings, parachuted and dangled by her knees on rope ladders that swung beneath the biplanes. She was also a mechanic and later taught military pilots to fly, Woods flew with the Civil Air Patrol during WW II. She later became a commercial flight and ground instructor. In 1941, she and Jimmie leased Roddey Field, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and received governmental contracts for military flight training.


Bessie Coleman Bessie Coleman was born in Atlanta, Texas in 1892. Although she was an avid reader, she worked as a laundress and briefly attended Langston University in Oklahoma. After moving to Chicago, she was inspired by the World War I pilots. She became interested in flying and became convinced she should be up there, not just reading about it. She started looking for a flying school but what she didn't realize was that she had two strikes against her: She was a woman and she was black.

She heard through her friend, sponsor and mentor, Robert S. Abbott (founder and editor of the Chicago Defender newspaper) that Europe had a more liberal attitude toward women and people of color. So she learned to speak French and earned enough money to go to Paris to get her license. She would not let go of her dream and earned her license on June 15, 1921 from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. She became the first American of any race or gender to earn an international pilot's license. Upon her return to the United States, she worked to increase the number of Black pilots. One of her first flying exhibitions was at Chicago's Checkerboard Field, before a crowd which included some of her friends. Dapper little Bessie wore a military-type uniform, complete with puttees and a Sam Brown belt, so that she looked like many other daredevil pilots of the era. For the next four years, she flew at shows whenever she could, and in between taught aviation for African-Americans. On October 12, 1922 she flew at the Tri-state Fair in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Jacksonville, Florida Negro Welfare League was sponsoring an air show on May Day 1926 and asked Bessie to perform. Unfortunately, she was killed before the show while testing her plane. No one was sure exactly what happened, as accident investigations were not so thorough in those days. It is known, however, that she fell more than a mile to her death.

Although her dream of establishing a flying school for black students never materialized, the Bessie Coleman Aero groups were organized after her death. On Labor Day, 1931, these flying clubs met in Chicago and sponsored the first all-black air show in America, which attracted 15,000 spectators. This event remains an important annual venue. In 1990 a street in Chicago was renamed Bessie Coleman Drive Chicago. In 1995 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in her honor.

Lt. Col. Eileen Collins (now Colonel Eileen Collins - ed.) was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1990. In February 1995, she was the first female to pilot a shuttle mission. Collins graduated in 1979 from Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training and was a T-38 instructor pilot until 1982. The following two years she was a C-141 aircraft commander and instructor pilot at Travis AFB, Calif. She spent the following year as a student with the Air Force Institute of Technology. Collins was then assigned to the Air Force Academy in Colorado, where she taught mathematics and was a T- 141 instructor pilot. She was selected for the astronaut program while attending the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, CA, from which she graduated in 1990. Collins has logged more than 4,000 hours in 30 different types of aircraft.

Wally Funk graduated first in her flight training class as Stephens College, and went on to excel in the flying curriculum at Oklahoma State University. At age 20, she was the first woman ever hired to flight instruct at Fort Still, Oklahoma. In the 1960's Funk was one of 25 women chosen to undergo preliminary astronaut testing. In 1971, she became the first female FAA inspector and, in 1973, became the first female in the FAA's System Airworthiness Analysis Program. Funk moved on to the NTSB in 1974, where she became one of the Board's first female air safety investigators. She has more than 13,600 hours of flying and has dedicated herself to educating pilots on safety and common sense in flying.

Jean Ross Howard learned to fly in 1941 through the government's Civilian Pilot Training Program. In 1954 she became the 13th woman in the world to receive a helicopter rating. She has participated in three international helicopter championships and both U.S. and international fixed-wing air races. An AIA public affairs specialist for 41 years, she is noted for her efforts in establishing heliports in emergency medical services. Founder of the Whirly-Girls, Inc., she has written extensively on aviation and authored the book All About Helicopters.

Nadine Jeppesen was hired by United Airlines as a "stewardess" to tend to passengers aboard their flights. In 1936, she married Capt. Jeppesen and together they established a flight chart business, producing the Jeppesen Airway Manual. Working out of the basement of their home in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jeppesen hired cartographers, helped design and write the copy for promotional procedures, and handled a myriad of other details associated with running the company. She continued to work as secretary/treasurer after they moved to Denver in 1941, and held that position until the company was sold in 1961.


Lorna DeBlicquy wrote a guest editorial in 1974 in "Canadian Flight" protesting the discrimination against women pilots by Crown Corporation Air Transit. The article attracted national comment in the media and contributed to the improved climate which now ensures women a place in the cockpits of Canada's major airlines. When Canada endorsed ICAO's position that pregnancy is a disease, and thus automatically downgraded a pilot's medical category, DeB]icquy served on a Canadian committee on pregnancy related to pilots' medical standards. As a result, some leniency on the loss of a category I medical classification during pregnancy has been granted to working women pilots. She has a total of 10,000 flying hours, more than half of them earned through flight instructing. She earned licenses for private glider, commercial helicopter, and single, multi, land, sea, DC-3 and Canadian Airline Transport Canada as the first female Civil Aviation Flight Test Inspector.

Audrey Poberezny has played an active role in the formation, administration and operation of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Poberezny has been instrumental in helping the organization grow from a local club for amateur aircraft builders into an international organization that embraces virtually the entire spectrum of sport aviation. Her unique contributions continue today as she plays an integral role in the annual Oshkosh AirVenture by supervising the functions of the guest relations office.

In 1961, the Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (as the 13 aviators later became known) were sworn to secrecy about astronaut candidate testing they underwent in New Mexico. They went through a week of medical tests--the same tests performed on the Mercury Seven astronauts. The women met the selection criteria of under 35 years of age, good health, a second-class medical, a four-year college degree, a commercial rating or better, and all had over 2,000 hours of flying time. However, they were not selected as astronaut candidates. The trainees were K. Cagle, Jerrie Cobb, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Wally Funk, Jane Hart, Jean Hixson, Gene Nora Jessen, Irene Leverton, Sarah Ratley, B. Steadman, Jerri Truhill and Rhea Woltman,

Dr. Sheila Windnall served as the first female Secretary of Air Force from 1993 to 1997. She was responsible for and had the authority to conduct all Department of the Air Force matters that include recruiting, organizing, training, administration, logistical support, maintenance and welfare of personnel. Dr. Widnall also served as a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 28 years and became an associate provost at the university in 1992. A professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, she is internationally known for her work in fluid dynamics, specifically in the areas of aircraft turbulence and the spiraling airflow, called vortices, created by helicopters.


Amelia Earhart began flying at the age of twenty-three. She obtained her license with money she saved from her salary as a nurse. In April 1928, she joined a transatlantic flight as the first woman passenger and became a national heroine. She later flew across the Atlantic and the Pacific making her the first woman to do so. Earhart participated in the first Women's Air Derby and was a founder of the 99's. She also helped start the airline that later became TWA. In addition, she was the aviation editor at Cosmopolitan magazine. Her biggest challenge was an around-the-world flight at the Equator. something that had never been attempted. Unfortunately, the plane with Earhart and her navigator vanished near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean in 1937. (Posthumous Induction)

Betty Skelton Frankman began flying at an early age and soloed "legally" on her sixteenth birthday. She became internationally famous after winning acrobatic championships, races and setting records. She worked for Eastern Airlines while also obtaining her commercial, flight instructor, single-engine land and sea, and multi-engine ratings. Active in the Civil Air Patrol since its beginning in the early forties, she held the rank of Major. She became a test pilot, occasionally flew helicopters, jets, blimps and gliders. In 1948, Frankman purchased a Pitts Special experimental bi-plane, a single-seater open cockpit airplane weighing only 544 pounds. Her air race victories resulted in her plane, "Little Stinker," becoming the most famous acrobatic aircraft in the world. It is now displayed in the National Air and Space Museum

Patty Wagstaff flies one of the most thrilling acrobatic performances in the world. She is a three-time U.S. National Acrobatic Champion and six-time member of the U.S. National Aerobatic Team. The airplane that Wagstaff first flew to victory in the 1991 U.S. National Aerobatic Championship, the prototype BFGoodrich Aerospace Extra 260, was inducted into the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. One of the few pilots in the world who combines professional airshow flying with competitive aerobatics, Wagstaff's remarkable skill and artistry in the air are admired by judges and spectators throughout the world. She has performed for audiences in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, England, France, Switzerland and Russia.

Navy Women Navigators of WWII During World War II, many women became WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). The WAVES were part of the Navy and were similar to the WAFS/WASP in that they served their country during the war. The Navy had women officers as Air Navigation Instructors, some of whom received flight pay and wore wings. These women were sent for celestial navigation training to replace the men for combat or Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) duty. They were generally assigned in pairs to various bases around the country after satisfactory completion of training.


Loretta Jones has been a licensed pilot since 1957. She has earned all ratings through Air Transport Pilot and is a certificated flight examiner. Loretta estimates that she has logged more than 25,000 hours in her logbook. Her pioneering spirit has helped pave the way for increased flying opportunities for those who were once know as "girl pilots." She has instructed nearly 1,000 student pilots during the past forty years. She was instrumental in changing hiring policies at airlines, and even trained the first female United Airlines pilot among her countless students.

Harriet Quimby's early career was spent as a writer. She became the first licensed female pilot in the United States on August 1, 1911 (ten years prior to Amelia Earhart), In November of the same year, she was on of the first women to fly an airplane in Mexico City. In 1912, she wrote, "The airplane should open a fruitful occupation for women. I see no reason they cannot realize handsome incomes by carrying passengers between adjacent towns, from parcel delivery, taking photographs or conducting schools of flying." At the time, she was the only woman writing about and encouraging other women to enter aviation. (Posthumous Induction)

Jacqueline L. Smith joined the Navy right after high school to become an air traffic controller. During her 30-year ATC career, she helped many other women succeed in ATC. In 1968, she and Sue Mostert (Townsend) founded Professional Women Controllers, Inc. The organization started with 70 members and has now grown to more than 800 FAA, military and international controllers. Smith continued to develop her own career and to inspire other women in the FAA. Her FAA "firsts" included several positions from the first woman manager of an Air Route Traffic Control Center to the first woman Regional Administrator in the FAA). Smith continually fostered programs and processes that considered the human side of work.

The Whirly-Girls, Inc. was organized in 1955 by Jean Rose Howard when there were only thirteen helicopter-rated women around the world. The nonprofit, educational and charitable organization's original goals were "to promote interest among all women in rotary wing craft, to establish scholarships to help other(s) learn to fly helicopters, and to provide a standby women's helicopter reserve for civil defense and other national emergencies." As times changed, the Whirly-Girls de-emphasized the latter in the interest of securing helicopter landing areas for hospitals and promoting heliports. Since the organization's formation, more than 1,000 individuals from 29 countries have become members.


Arlene Elliott has been a steady promoter of general aviation for more than 60 years. She and her husband Herbert began Elliott Aviation, a fixed base operation, in 1936. Over the years, the Elliott's expanded their operation to include a dealership for Piper and Beechcraft airplanes. Elliott soloed in a Piper Cub in 1936, but chose to direct her personal efforts toward the development and promotion of general aviation. She was instrumental in "the turnaround of the bankers' attitude" toward the financing of aircraft purchases. Arlene Elliott exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit and was an early aviation woman business owner.

Gloria Heath is recognized as a leader in establishing an international safety information dissemination service and providing a unified global response to distress occurrences for land, sea and air. She also is known for extending opportunities for women. She was one of the founders of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). Heath worked for American Export Airlines, then flew as a WASP in WWII. She was the director of Summer Aviation Programs at Connecticut College, employed by Aero Insurance Underwriters, assistant director at Cornell-Guggenheim Aviation Safety Center and a consultant for the search and rescue operation, SAR-ASSIST. Heath was one of the FSF founders on its Board since its inception in 1970.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh has promoted aviation from its earliest days and has, in turn, inspired many women. Lindbergh was the first woman to earn a glider pilot's license in the U.S. She was determined to help her husband Charles on his pioneer routes for the airlines industry. In order to do so, she learned Morse code and earned a radio operator's license. Today, Lindbergh is best known as a writer. Her early books are eloquent travelogues of pioneering adventures in the air. Her natural tendency towards quiet introspection and observation came to fruition in literary works that remain among her greatest contributions to aviation.

June D. Maule is the CEO and exclusive owner of Maule Air, Inc., the world-renowned manufacturer of MAULE STOL airplanes. She was the wife and business partner of the late B. D. Maule, aircraft designer and manufacturer. For 55 years she operated, with her late husband, the administrative aspect of Maule aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturing facilities. There have been approximately 2,150 Maule airplanes built since 1940. At age 82, Maule reports to work daily except when attending club meetings or hosting missionaries and dignitaries.


Katherine Cheung received her pilot's certificate in 1932 as the first licensed Asian American aviatrix in the U.S. In 1935, she obtained an international airline license and flew as a commercial pilot. She flew aerobatics in an open cockpit Fleet and regularly entered competitive air races including the Chatterton Air Race in 1936.Bom in China in 1904, Cheung came to the U.S. to join her father, a Los Angeles businessman. She attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music (and later the University of Southern California) where she studied music and piano. She was married in 1924 to George B. Young. In 1931, a pilot cousin invited Cheung to take an airplane ride. That was when her love for flying began and she signed up for flying lessons. She was disturbed at the news that women were not allowed to enroll in Chinese flying schools in her homeland. Cheung received her certificate in 1932, at a time when only 1% of licensed pilots in the U.S. were women. She also became a member of the Women's International Association of Aeronautics that year. Cheung then began her aerobatics/air show career. From 1933 to 1937, she entered numerous competitive air races and continued her aerobatics career. In 1935, she was invited to become a member of the International Association of Women Pilots, the Ninety-Nines, and became friends with Amelia Earhart. Following the Japanese invasion of China and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in 1937, Cheung declared her intention to return to China and participate in the War effort by opening a flying school to teach Chinese volunteers to fly. However, a male friend was soon killed while flying her airplane. Cheung's father, who was seriously ill and near death at the time of the accident, worried that something similar might happen to his daughter and secured a promise from her to give up flying. Cheung is listed in the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum as the nation's first Asian aviatrix. The Beijing Air Force Aviation Museum calls her "China's Amelia Earhart." Today, Cheung lives in Thousand Oaks, California.

Jerrie Cobb, a native of Oklahoma, learned to fly at age 12. She worked at small county airports after school and weekends to gain flying experience and learn aircraft mechanics. At age 18, she became a professional pilot whose jobs included pipeline patrol flying, charter flying, flight instruction, crop dusting and ground school instruction. Cobb worked as an international ferry pilot delivering USAF military fighters and bombers to countries around the world in her early twenties. She later set four world aviation records for speed and distance, and two for altitude. Cobb was selected in 1959 as the first woman to undergo astronaut selection tests. She passed all three phases of the grueling tests, but was not allowed to fly into space because of her gender. Cobb has received many awards and honors including the Amelia Earhart Gold Medal of Achievement, Pilot of the Year by the National Pilots Association, Captain of Achievement by the International Academy of Achievement and the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award for "humanitarian contributions to modem aviation." She also was awarded the Harmon Trophy as the world's best woman pilot by President Nixon at age 42.

Marion P. Jayne is recognized on six continents for world records, pioneering achievements, entrepreneurial innovations and encouragement of women to be successful in the field of aviation. She is the only U.S. pilot to have raced her airplane in two competitions around the world. Jayne and her daughter, Pat Keefer, received the F6d6ration A6ronautique Internationale (FAI) Gold Medals for winning the longest race in history--24 days around the world. She is the first and only U.S. pilot to win the FAI Gold Medal as pilot-in-command. Jayne was 39 when she had her first lesson and earned her private, commercial, instrument, instructor and instrument instructor licenses in record time. She was the 12th woman to receive her ATP and did all this within five years of her introductory flight. Jayne broke new ground in the 1960's as the corporate pilot for the business she owned with her husband. She was so widely known as an excellent pilot of the Piper Twin Comanche, nicknamed the widow-maker, that she was invited to testify before Congress when it was investigating the Twin Comanche's safety record. A true innovator, Jayne created many racing techniques that are now a standard for the sport. She introduced air racing as a marketing event for national sponsors including insurance companies and air carriers. She invented the concept of individual handicaps for competing aircraft and flying starts. Jane was the first person to create an annual cross country air race open to male and female pilots. Previously, the sport was run by women for women. Among her many awards and honors include induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and being featured at the Niney-Nines Museum for Women Pilots with her own cabinet, a distinction that she shares with Amelia Earhart. An 1800-mile cross-country air race was also renamed the Marion Jayne Air Race in her honor. In addition to being a world-class pilot, Jayne was an Olympic class swimmer and accomplished equestrian. She faced many challenges in her lifetime and few that she had been a critically ill youngster, a child bride, homeless after a fire, young widow and single mother. These challenges made her tenacious, strong and determined to succeed. Jayne died in 1996.

Louise McPhetridge Thaden was bon in Arkansas in 1905. Her father helped her develop mechanical interests by teaching her how to repair the family automobile. She took her first flight in 1919, a $5 ride with a barnstormer. While working at a job selling coal in Wichita, Kansas, Thaden met Walter Beech, the president of the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. She quickly impressed Beech with her resolve to pursue a career in aviation and, in March 1927, he arranged for her to work at Travel Air's Pacific dealership. As office manager, she was given the opportunity to learn to fly as part of her salary. She soloed in early 1928 and received her pilot certificate, signed by Orville Wright. She married Herbert von Thaden in July 1928. In December 1928, Thaden brought the world's altitude record for women to the U.S. for the first time, reaching an altitude of more than 20,000 feet. In 1929, she set a solo flight endurance record for women of over 22 hours and a women's speed record of 156 miles per hour in a Wright J-5 powered Travel Air. Thaden was the first and only woman to ever hold all three records simultaneously. Later that Mon th, she earned her transport pilot's license, the fourth woman in the U.S. to do so. Thaden won the first Women's Air Derby as part of the 1929 National Air Races from Santa Monica, California, to Cleveland, Ohio. Later that year, she became a founding member of the International Organization of Women Pilots, the Ninety-Nines. Thaden became known as the "girl who beat the guys" by winning the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race in 1936, establishing a new transcontinental speed record for women in the process. As a result, the Federation Aeronautique Intemationale awarded her the Harmon Trophy as "the outstanding woman pilot in the United States for 1936." Although Thaden retired from aviation after the 1937 St. Louis Air Races, she stayed active in aviation for the rest of her life. Through her book, High, Wide and Frightened, and many newspaper and magazine articles, Thaden encouraged women to pursue aviation careers. She served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services from 1959 to 1961 and, from 1949 to 1970, held numerous positions with the Civil Air Patrol. Thaden died in 1979.


Mary Barr learned to fly in a piper club in 1946 in Lorain, Ohio. She worked nights in a factory to pay for flying lessons. Barr then moved to New York to attend aircraft mechanic’s school and worked on planes during World War II. Barr has had a varied career including serving as a FAA Pilot Examiner and Accident Prevention Counselor, and in a variety of positions within the U.S. Forest Service, including the first woman pilot and smokejumper. In 1964, Barr became one of the first four women to compete in the Reno Air Races. Barr holds several FAA certificates and ratings including: Commercial, Airline Transport Pilot, Flight Instructor, Instrument, and Glider. She is also a Ground Instructor and Airplane and Power plant Mechanic. At the age of 75, Barr continues to fly for pleasure. She currently resides in Janesville, CA.

Ann Baumgartner Carl learned to fly in 1940 and entered Women Air force Service Pilots (WASPS) training during World War II. She was assigned to tow a target squadron at Camp Davis, NC, flying Curtiss A-25s. She was transferred to Wright Field in Dayton, OH, where she became the first and only female test pilot. It was there she became acquainted with Orville Wright, a frequent visitor at the field. On October 14, 1944, Carl became the first women to fly a jet aircraft, the Bell YP-59A. A partial list that Carl flew during her WASP service include: AT-7,AT-17,AT-10,C-45,C-47,A-24, A-25,B-25,B-26,B-17,B-29,P-38,P-40,P-47,P-51,YP-59A as well as foreign-made Avro Lancaster, DeHavilland Mosquito, Spitfire, Junkers Ju-88 and the Canadian C-64. After the WASP disbanded in December 1944, Carl returned to flight instruction and writing for the New York Times and other publications. She is the author of more than 2,000 newspaper columns and magazine articles on science and the environment.
Carl is a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She resides in both Kilmarnok, Virginia and Abaco, Bahamas.

Elizabeth (Betty) Pfister learned to fly in 1941 and ferried U.S. Army aircraft for nearly two years during World War II as a WASP. Since the war, Pfister has had a varied career including: service as a flight instructor, a pilot for several nonscheduled airlines, a stewardess for Pan Am. Airways, and an FAA Accident Prevention Specialist. Pfister served on President Nixon’s Women’s Advisory Committee on Aviation from 1969 to 1972. She was also a member of the U.S. Helicopter Team, competing in the World Championships in 1973 and 1978. Pfister has been instrumental in many Aspen, Colorado, aviation efforts including: convincing the FAA to provide a control tower, founding and organizing first hospital heliport; and founding and serving as the first chairman of the Aspen Chapter of the Ninety- Nines. A graduate of Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, Pfister presently lives in Aspen Colorado.

Elinor Smith was a record breaking pilot who did everything with a flourish. Smith soloed at the age of 15 and three months later set an altitude record of 11,889 feet in Waco 9. In 1927, she became the youngest licensed pilot at the age of 16. In 1930, at the age of 18, she became the youngest pilot, male or female, granted a transport license by the U.S. department of Commerce. Other records Smith set include: an endurance record of 13.5 hours in a Burner –Winke biplane in 1929, only to break that record later that year with 26.5 hours in a Bellanca CH monoplane and the women’s world speed record 190.8 in Curtiss military airplane. Also in 1929, smith and Bobbi Trout set a new women’s refueling record of 42.5 hours. In 1930, Smith was selected by licensed American pilots as the “Best Women Pilot In America,” During the Depression, Smith was a stunt pilot for movies, air shows and fundraisers for the homeless and needy. Smith now lives in Santa Cruz, CA, where she is a consultant to local and national museums.


Fiorenza de Bernardi- Fiorenza de Bernardi has five decades of accomplishments in aviation. A record setter, pioneer and tireless advocate for women’s opportunities in aviation, she has made an indelible mark on aviation. Born May 22, 1928, in Florence, Italy, she learned to fly in 1951. Being the daughter of Col. Mario de Bernardi, a world champion seaplane racer and aerobatics champion helped. She entered air races in Italy and other European countries in 1953. De Bernardi has flown the Twin Otter, Queen Airf , yak -40, and DC-8 aircraft all over the world. She received her glider pilot certificate in the 1960s and was the first women in Italy to earn a glacier pilot certificate. She joined the ninety-nines in 1956. She became the first women airline pilot in Italy and one of the first woman airline pilots in Europe when Aeralpi hired her in 1967 to fly the Twin Otter. She became the first woman airline caption in Italy in 1969. She trained in Russia on the YAK-40 for Air Terrenia and flew this aircraft as a charter demonstration pilot. She worked as a professional pilot for 18 years until retiring after suffering severe injuries in an automobile accident in 1985. De Bernardi continued her staunch advocacy for women’s advancement in aviation after retirement. She founded and is current vice president of API- Associazione Italiana Donne Pilota , the Italian Woman Pilots Association. This organization is now called ADA- Associazione Donne Aria since its members now include Italian women skydivers. She is president of FPE- European Women Pilots federation. She is the editor of Pink Line, a Gallery of European Women Pilots, a compilation of all pioneering women pilots in Europe. De Bernardi joined the International Society of Women Airlines Pilots in 1985 and continued her efforts. The ISA+21 Merit Scholarship was named for her. This scholarship is awarded annually to a commercial pilot applicant striving to further her career.

Julie E. Clark- Captain Julie E. Clark took her first flying lesson in 1967 while attending the University of California, Santa Barbra. It was at that point in her life she knew she wanted to become an airline pilot like her father, Captain Ernie Clark; however there were a few obstacles in the way. Ironically, it was her father’s fate that had a more profound effect on Julie and her ambition to fly. Captain Ernie Clark flew in the 1960s when cockpit doors were left unlocked. In 1964 a deranged passenger barged into the unlocked cockpit with a gun and killed Captain Clark. That incident brought about the law requiring cockpit doors to remain locked during all commercial flights and is named after Clark. Sadly, her mother had died of accidental causes the previous year, when Julie was only fourteen. The major hurdle in becoming a pilot, besides being orphaned at age 15, was the fact that Clark was a woman. At the beginning of career, she was told “We’re not hiring woman pilots.” “Not” was not an option for her, though. Clark’s first major break came after college in 1976, when Golden West Airlines hired her, their first and only women pilot. In 1977, Hughes Airwest (formerly Pacific Airlines, the same airline her father flew for) hired her and she became one of the first women to fly for a major airline. Besides her 25 years as an airline pilot, Julie has also been performing in air shows for the past 22 years in a 50-year-old military trainer that she restored herself. She has been voted “Performer of the Year” several times. She has flown for Mopar Parts, her corporate sponsor for 15 years, making her the longest sponsored act in show history. Julie says that if she can inspire just one girl at each show to become involved in aviation than she feels she’s done her job.

Doris E. Lockness- Doris Lockness began flying in the 1930s. Today she holds all of her ratings, from signal-engine land/sea to free balloon, and those in between. She started World War II working for Douglas Aircraft as a Liaison Engineer on the C-4, but then joined Jackie Cochran’s WASPs and went off to Sweetwater, TX, to train. Lockness continued to fly after World War II and earned her helicopter rating in the 1960s, and her commercial gyroplane rating in 1998 (she was only the second woman to hold the rating in a constant speed prop gyroplane). For many years you could pick Lockness out of the crowd at air shows by her Vultee-Stinson war bird, “Swamp Angel”, which she flew around the country. Her contributions to the promotion and public acceptance of women as pilots in general aviation have been honored by the ninety-nines in its “Forest of Friendship” and by the OX-5 Pioneers, which has recognized her with both its Legion of Merit Award, Pioneer Women’s Award and Pioneer Hall of Fame. She has also been honored with the Whirly Girls Livingston Award in 1995, and a certificate of honor from the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), as well as the organization’s Elder Statesman of Aviation Award (1991 and 1995). In 1997 Lockness was honored again by the NAA, receiving its Katherine Wright Memorial Award. Lockness aeronautical achievements have inspired many to set higher goals and stretch to reach them, encouraging countless women over more than seven decades to put on their wings and fly.

Blanche Stuart Scott- For Blanch Stuart Scott aviation was natural. She’d set records in automobiles, so when Jerome Fanciulli, of the Curtiss exhibition team asked her if she would like to learn to fly she said, "yes”. Glenn Curtiss was not exited by the idea of a woman pilot, but he agreed to give her lessons. He was so sure she should not fly that he inserted a block of wood behind the throttle pedal as a limiter. Despite his efforts Scott managed to fly to an altitude of 40 feet in the air. She continued her lessons and made her debut as a member of the Curtiss exhibition team at a Chicago air meet in 1910. Thus began the career of the woman billed as “The Tomboy of the Air.” Scott flew for several exhibition teams, performing inverted flight and “Death Dives” from 4,000 feet. During her exhibition career she earned up to 500 a week appearing in meets with luminaries as Lincoln Beachy and Harriet Quimby. In 1911, Scott found herself inadvertently setting a record. Scott took off from Minneola one afternoon and impulsively flew 60 miles before landing back at the field. It was the first woman’s long distance flight. Not long after, Scott became the first female test pilot. In 1912 she flew Martin prototypes before the final blueprints for the aircraft had been made. Bothered by the public’s interest in crashes and the lack of opportunities for woman as engineers or mechanics, she retired from flying in 1916 and went into radio and film writing (cutting edge at the time). In the 1950s she came back to aviation as a special consultant to the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton,OH.

June Maule- 1999 Pioneer and one of WAI's 100 most influential

Evelyn Bryan Johnson- 1994 Pioneer and one of WAI's 100 most influential