Female Aviators

By | Aug 11, 2010

I was looking at some of the keywords that have been used by people that have landed here and one jumped out at me.  That was, “sexy female fighter pilots”. Other than Amelia Earhart, there wasn’t a lot that I knew about women in aviation history so I took a look.

Orville and Wilbur Wright’s sister Katherine was a big supporter of her brothers’ effort to fly. She gave them money for their experiments and was an important, yet unrecognized member of the team. In 1909, she made her first flight in Pau, France to help demonstrate that it was safe enough for a woman to do it.

On August 11, 1911, the journalist, Harriet Quimby was the first woman to be issued a pilot license in the United States. Her sister, Mathilde Molsant, was the second. She was the first to fly across the English Channel and even though she died on July 1, 1912 when the plane she was piloting pitched forward ejecting her from the plane, she was an inspiration to Earhart. Earhart once said of her, “To cross the Channel in 1912 required more bravery and skill than to cross the Atlantic today…we must remember that, in thinking of America’s first great woman flier’s accomplishment.”

In 1942, to free up men for combat duties, 1074 women were made Women Air Service Pilots (WASP). They were assigned to bases throughout the US and flew all type of aircrafts.

The Navy in 1974  took the first steps in making women true military pilots when they gave wings to six women. The Army followed shortly later in the same year with trained female helicopter pilots. The Air Force didn’t follow until 1976. It still wasn’t until the late 1980’s that women were allowed to fly in combat zones. During Desert Storm, Major Marie Rossi was the first female pilot to die in combat when the helicopter she was flying crashed on March 1, 1989.

Lt. Colonel Martha McSally became the first woman to be trained as an Air Force fighter pilot. She was also the first woman to command a fighter squadron. According to fighterchicks.com, “There are 49 active duty female fighter pilots and 16 WSOs in fighters. There are 17 female fighter pilots in the Air National Guard.”

In case you were wondering, 6 Things to Consider first showed up on page 2 of the google search with the posting about Beautiful Women and Their Sci-Fi Roles when I said that Grace Park and Katee Sackhoff’s roles make fighter pilots sexy.


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