365 Female Flying Feats

January 6, 1943 The Nachthexen (Night Witches, as nicknamed by the Germans), an all female Russian bomber regiment founded by Colonel Marina Raskova, were officially acknowledged for meritorious service. The women flew over 24,000 sorties and dropped over 23,000 tons of bombs, piloting canvas and wood Polikarov biplanes, originally designed for cropdusting.

January 5, 1895 High altitude balloonist Jeannette Ridlon Piccard was born. Piccard was the first American woman to earn a balloon license and the first to fly into the stratosphere, achieving an altitude of 10.9 miles over Lake Erie. The flight was planned with support from Dow Chemical, Goodyear, and the National Geographic Society but  “the National Geographic Society would have nothing to do with sending a woman—a mother—in a balloon into danger” Piccard observed. All three pulled their funding. Piccard eventually got the balloon off the ground with the help of several small Detroit companies and by selling her story to newspapers. Piccard later became one of the first women ordained as an Episcopal priest.

January 4, 1910 Therese Peltier, the first woman to pilot an airplane, gave up aviation when her flight instructor, Leon Delagrange, was killed in a flying accident. On September 27, 1908, an Italian magazine had reported that Peltier flew 200 meters at a height of 2.5 meters, across Military Square in Milan.
January 3, 1913 Mountain climber Rosina Ferrario became the first Italian woman to earn a pilot’s license, and the only Italian woman to earn her license before World War I. She proposed a plan to allow woman pilots to rescue wounded soldiers from the battlefield by air but the Italian government rejected the idea.
January 2, 1929 Bobbi Trout set of on an endurance flight that would last 12 hours 11 minutes, beating Viola Gentry’s women’s record, set the previous December. Three weeks later, Elinor Smith answered Trout’s challenge, flying 13 1/2 hours. Trout, Gentry and Smith continued to duel through the spring, with Elinor Smith claiming victory in April when she flew for 26 1/2 hours.
January 1, 1948 Betty Skelton, the “First Lady of Firsts” won the Women’s Aerobatic Championship. During her long varied career, Skelton set over 17 records for automobiles and planes and broke barriers for women in the fields of advertising, flying, and auto testing.
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