When the sky isn’t the limit

The air is the only place free from prejudices. – Bessie Coleman

6 women who defied gravity and became pioneers of the sky.

Jeannette Piccard

Was the first female balloon pilot licensed in the United States, she was the first woman to ascend into the stratosphere As the first woman to fly to the stratosphere, Jeannette Piccard received much publicity. Many still felt that a mother should not be taking such risks. When she was asked if she was afraid, she replied, “Even if one were afraid to die, there is so much of interest in a stratosphere trip that one does not have time to be afraid. It is too absorbing, too interesting.” Asked repeatedly by the press if she would do it again, Jeannette replied, “Oh, just give me a chance,” but she never had the opportunity.

Harriet Quimby

Harriet Quimby was an early American aviator and a movie screenwriter. In 1911, she was awarded a U.S. pilot’s certificate by the Aero Club of America, becoming the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States. In 1912, she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Although Quimby lived only to the age of thirty-seven, she had a major influence upon the role of women in aviation.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. Earhart joined the faculty of the Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and help inspire others with her love for aviation. She was also a member of the National Woman’s Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Ann Baumgartner

The first woman to fly a jet aircraft, it was the Bell YP-59A on October 14, 1944. Baumgartner graduated from Walnut Hill High School in Natick, Massachusetts, and from Smith College at Northampton in 1940. She was inspired to fly by a visit from Amelia Earhart in grade school.

Jerrie Cobb

The first woman in the U.S. to undergo astronaut testing. However, NASA canceled the women’s program in 1963. March 5, 1931, Norman, Oklahoma was the birthplace for Geraldyn M. “Jerrie” Cobb. Daughter of Lt. Col. William H. Cobb and Helena Butler Stone Cobb, Jerrie Cobb took her first flight at the age of 12 in the backseat of a 1936 Waco open-cockpit biplane flown by her father, Col. Cobb. Thus began one of the world’s great love stories.”I have this feeling that life is a spiritual adventure, and I want to make mine in the sky.” While still a student at Oklahoma City Classen High School, she earned a private pilot’s license at the age of sixteen. On her 18th birthday, she received her Commercial Pilot’s license and had added her Flight Instructor’s Rating soon thereafter. Cobb set several world altitude and speed records in Aero Commander airplanes built by Oklahoma’s Aero Design and Engineering Company. When she became the first woman to fly in the world’s largest air exposition, the Salon Aeronautique Internacional in Paris, her fellow airmen named her Pilot of the Year and awarded her the Amelia Earhart Gold Medal of Achievement.

Bessie Coleman 

The first woman of African-American descent and the first of Native American descent to hold a pilot license. Coleman was inspired to become a pilot after hearing stories from World War I veterans in Chicago. She worked multiple jobs to save money in order to learn how to become a pilot but none of the flight schools in America would admit women or African Americans. As a result, Coleman travelled to France and earned her license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. On June 15, 1921, Coleman became the first woman of African-American and Native American descent to earn an aviation pilot’s license and the first person of African-American and Native American descent to earn an international aviation license


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