The world of aviation is best known as a male dominated occupation and hobby. But some amazing women through history decided to choose the road less taken and learn how to fly. These early female pilots were the pioneers who opened the gates for the upcoming generations. Now it is almost natural to find women in the cockpit. Let’s take a look at some of the most distinguished female pilots.
Raymonde de Laroche:
Elise Raymonde Deroche was an actress, but watching the demonstration flights by the Wright brothers in 1908 in Paris, as well as meeting various aviators, ignited a passion towards the field, and she started to dream about flying herself. Flight magazine called Raymonde de Laroche “The Baroness”, and the title stayed with her all her life that a lot of people thought she was of noble origin.
Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh:
Born in 1906, Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh was a writer and a pilot. A prime example for women’s rights, Anne worked side by side with her husband, Charles Lindbergh, she was his co-pilot for years. Her most famous written work, Gift from the Sea, was published in 1955. It comprises a collection of essays that discuss the struggle we all go through to achieve balance and serenity in life, with a focus on the life of modern women.
Born in 1892, Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman, as well as the first woman of Native-American descent to earn a pilot license. In order to start a career as a stunt flier, Bessie needed advanced lessons. She spent another two months in France where she took an advanced course in aviation, then left for the Netherlands to meet the renowned aircraft designer Anthony Fokker. After that, she traveled to Germany, where she received additional training at the Fokker Corporation from one of the company’s chief pilots. After all this extensive training, Bessie went back to America to start a career in exhibition flying, becoming one of the most famous female pilots in the USA.
Bessica Medlar Raiche:
Not only did she make solo flights, but Bessica Medlar Raiche also designed and built an airplane with her husband. A doctor, a linguist, an artist, a musician, and a pilot, Bessica was certainly both gifted and motivated. Bessica, who was born in 1875, graduated from Tufts Medical School in 1903. She practiced medicine as a doctor and a dentist. The flight took place on 16 September 1910, Bessica flew the plane exactly five times. The last flight, however, did not end with the smoothest landing, but Bessica was unharmed.
Born in 1927, British aviator Sheila Scott broke more than 100 flying records between 1965 and 1972. She is definitely one of the most powerful women in the cockpit. She started setting world records after that, starting with her flight between London and Cape Town in 1967, her flight across the North Atlantic Ocean in 1967, and across the South Atlantic Ocean in 1969, and her flight from the Equator to the Equator over the North Pole in 1971. Her 100th world-class record was set during her third around-the-world solo flight.
At the time of her death in 1980, Jacqueline Cochran, who was born in 1906, held more distance, altitude and speed world records than any other pilot, male or female. Known as the speed queen, Cochran was the only woman to compete and win in the Bendix race, the first female pilot to break the sound barrier, the first woman to land and take off from an aircraft carrier, and the first female president of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.
Johnson won fame when in 1930 she became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, doing so in a de Havilland Gipsy Moth. She was also the first woman in the world to qualify as an aircraft engineer. During the Second World War, Johnson joined the Air Transport Auxiliary and died in 1941 when the plane she was ferrying crashed in the sea in bad weather conditions. Johnson remains a prominent female figure in the male dominated world of aviation.