All civilian female pilots, these pioneering women were employed to ferry most military aircraft to their destinations for eventual combat. These exceptional aviators, although intrumental to the war effort, were not recognized until 1977.
Numbering a mere 1074 women, these fliers were the unsung heroes of World War II. They played a non-combat role in combat-like conditions.
The 1st woman licensed as a pilot in the U.S. (8/1/1911), Harriet Quimby paved a path for future female aviators. A pilot, journalist, actress and screenwriter, Quimby had no limitations.
A true mentor for ALL women, Quimby asserted that "Flying is a fine dignified sport for women. It is healthy and stimulates the mind."
Bigger than life, Pancho was a legend in her own time; aviatrix, founder of the first test pilots union, owner of the famed (and yes, infamous) HAPPY BOTTOM RIDING CLUB. Well known in her native southern California, Pancho competed in air races where she broke Amelia Earhart's speed record.
A friend to aviators and Hollywood's famous, Barnes' life was immortalized in movies as well as books. Colorful and exciting, Pancho Barnes led a life still talked about to this day.
Anne Morrow was the first woman to earn a first-class glider pilot's license. Dwarfed somewhat by her famous husband, Anne co-piloted with Charles, the first flight from Africa to South America.
Much the woman's woman, Morrow-Lindbergh wrote critically acclaimed literature throughout her 94 years. She did it all - raised a family, endured the horrors of having a child kidnapped and left a daughter, Reeve, who like her mother, is an accomplished author.
A mentor to women in so many ways...
Doing it "the hard way," and undoubtedly HER way, Beryl Markham was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean - London to North America - against the wind. Known mostly for her thoroughbred horses, Markham the aviator, was described as someone who 'could find her way to any spot.'
Her goal, to prove to the world that she was the best pilot around, was realized when her record solo flight across the Atlantic challenged every ounce of courage and know-how she could muster.
A book chronicling her exploits, "WEST WITH THE NIGHT" established Markham as a woman who succeeded and truly did it "her way."
The first American woman to enter Space (1983).
Space Shuttle Challenger carried Ride into history as the first American woman crew member. A physicist by training, Ride currently focuses her energies towards encouraging children to study science, with hopes that more girls will follow in her footsteps.
Entering history's recordbook as the first female pilot of African American descent as well as the first African American to hold an international pilot license, Bessie Coleman was aviation's Jackie Robinson. Her fantasy, to be a pilot, was stoked by stories of WWI pilots who regaled her as she manicured their nails in the White Sox Barber Shop in Chicago.
Her airborne path, barnstormer stunt flier and exhibition flyer, took her to eventually leading the way for black women and men to take to the skies. Her vow to one day "amount to something" was certainly met. Unfortunately her dream to establish a school for young black aviators was never fulfilled.
Amelia's impression when seeing her first plane was not love-at-first-sight. "It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and looked not at all interesting." But, her first ride changed everything, not just for her but for aviation and women in general.
Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for being the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. To further women in aviation, Earhart was instrumental in forming The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.
The mystery that surrounds her death makes Amelia Earhart's name a household word. Known as an inspiration to females everywhere, her early politics gave support to what is now the Equal Rights Amendment.
This sculpture patio will not have her "missing" but very much alive, in bronze.
1973 was the historic year when the first female pilot was hired by a U.S. scheduled airline. Capt. Emily Warner was that woman.
Frontier Airlines helped Warner with that "First" but Emily did the work to make it happen. Her perseverance and pioneering spirit paid off. Guiding herself to making good decisions, Warner relied upon 3 things:
Dubbed "The Divine Rudder" this pioneer walked-the-walk as do other women, today, because of her.
Pilot and commander during WWII, Love assembled what was in 1942, the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squandron (WAFS). Merging with the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) in 1943, to become the Womens Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), Love was responsible for all ferrying operations.
The first to be certified to fly the P51, C54,B25 and B17, Harkness-Love was also proficient in 16 other military aircraft. Not good enough? Love, in 1944, set a record for being the first woman to make a flight around the world.
The respect she received gave her name even more meaning - LOVE.
Jackie Cochran was considered to be one of the most gifted racing pilots of her generation. Contributing to the WWII military air endeavor through the formation of the WASP's, Cochran helped hundreds of women train and fly military airmachinery.
For this effort, she received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Deservedly so, Jackie Cochran ranks among the greatest aviators in history.
NASA Astronaut, Judith Resnick was the second woman astronaut in orbit and the first Jewish astronaut in space. Demonstrating a playful sense of humor and a vast array of knowledge, Resnick unfortunately was aboard the Challenger on its final mission in 1986.
"Jerrie" was the first woman to fly solo around the world in 1964. The trip took 29 days with 21 stopovers and almost 22,860 miles.
Her 'firsts' are numerous as are the awards recognizing her main accomplishment - furthering women's acceptance into the world of aviation.
The only woman awarded The Iron Cross First Class and The Luftwaffe Combined Pilots-Observation Badge in gold with diamonds, During WWII, this German aviator quickly became a celebrity. Nazi propaganda used Reitsch's photogenic qualities as well as her flying skills to publicize her as Hitler's favorite pilot.
Controversial, yes. But, in the world of flight, she made an indelible mark.
Robert Henderson is the official sculptor for Mario Andretti, Walter Cronkite and John Denver, to name a few. He is best known for creating monumental bronze sculpture gardens at the United States Air Force Academy, Pearl Harbor and Balboa Park in San Diego (www.warbirdcentral.com). Famous for bringing those he sculpts to life, his bronzes of Navy Seal Danny Dietz as well as other notable figures elicit great emotion.
"A gift of a good eye, discipline and a love of machinery and history" are Robert's finest qualities. His belief that "I do not choose my assignments. They come and I do them" has left him open to this next body of work - THE SKY LADIES.