365 Female Flying Feats

December 21, 1910 Motorcycle champion Helene Dutrieu won the Coupe Femina, a prize awarded each year to the woman who flew the longest in both time and distance. On this day, Dutrieu flew 103.8 miles in 2 hours, 35 minutes and was the first woman to remain airborn for more than an hour.
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December 20, 1928 Viola Gentry set the first official women’s endurance record, flying 8 hours, 6 minutes, 37 seconds in an open cockpit Travelair biplane. She set off a three way aerial duel between herself, Bobbi Trout, and Elinor Smith. Elinor eventually won, flying over 26 and a half hours, a record that still stands.

December 18, 1941 Recordbreaking aviatrix Laura Ingall was arraigned in federal court on charges of being a German spy. Ingalls had flown 344 consecutive loops and 714 barrel rolls, and had been the first woman to fly nonstop coast to coast across the United States. Ingalls was convicted of being an unregistered foreign agent and served time in Alderson Prison.

December 16, 1936 Ivy May Pearce competed in the Brisbane to Adelaide Air Race, posting the fastest time for any woman and finishing only two seconds behind the male winner. Pearce was one of the only female aerobatic pilots in Australia. Later she became a prominent Australia fashion “guru” and owned three exclusive boutiques.

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December 15, 2006 Sally Ride, the first woman to orbit the earth, was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Ride helped develop the Space Shuttle’s robotic arm and used that arm to retrieve a satellite in 1983 during a mission on board Challenger. She founded Sally Ride Science, a company that develops student science projects and curriculum, with a special focus on girls.

December 13, 1934 Central Airlines, later part of United Airlines, hired pilot Helen Richey, the first woman to fly for a commercial passenger airline. Male pilots harassed Richey and refused to allow her to join the pilots’ union, eventually forcing her to resign. Richey accomplished many other important aviation firsts, including first woman to fly airmail. Along with co-pilot Frances Marcalis she achieved a ten day in-air endurance record.
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