November 1, 1944 Bob Nowland, commanding general of the Ferrying Division of Air Transport Command, pleaded for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (the WASP) program to continue. General Hap Arnold responded “The WASP have completed their mission….The Air Forces will long remember their service and their final sacrifice.” Yet the women pilots were not granted veteran status until 1975. On March 10, 2010 two hundred surviving WASP gathered in Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
October 31, 1987 Lynn Barton became British Airways’ first female pilot. In 2008, she landed the first flight at Heathrow Airport’s new T5 terminal. By that time the airline employed 175 female pilots.
October 30, 1985 Bonnie Jeanne Dunbar lifted off for her first of five missions aboard the space shuttle. She was responsible for operating Spacelab. After retiring from NASA she became the president of the Museum Of Flight.
October 29, 2007 Ninety-eight-year-old Evelyn Bryan Johnson aka “Mama Bird” was awarded the Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award. Johnson has logged over 57,000 flight hours and is the world’s oldest living flight instructor.
October 27, 1909 Sarah Van Deman aka “Lady Jack” flew with Wilbur Wright, becoming the first woman airplane passenger in America. Van Deman was a friend of Katharine Wright, the inventors’ sister. “Now I know why birds sing,” she said. “It was wonderful. There is no earthly sensation I can compare with it. Afraid? Why should I be? I never thought of that.”
October 25, 1919 German pilot Beate Uhse-Rotermund was born. Uhse-Rotermund trained as a stunt pilot before WWII and became the only woman pilot in the Luftwaffe once the war began. Obsessed with flying from an early age, eight-year-old Beate glued chicken feathers to her arms and jumped from the roof of her parents house.
October 24, 1934 Maude “Chubby” Miller was sworn in as a “sky policeman” by the San Francisco Chief of Police. Miller herself had been involved in a sordid murder investigation just two years earlier when her romantic and flying partner Bill Lancaster was accused of killing her biographer Haden Clarke. Lancaster was acquitted but their romance was finished and he disappeared on a flight over the Sahara.
October 23, 1910 Betty Scott became the first woman to fly before an audience when she flew a Curtiss Pusher biplane at a demonstration in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She was the only woman Glenn Curtiss taught to fly. He didn’t believe women belonged in the air, but he never imagined Scott would stick with it,and had included her in the demonstration as a publicity stunt. Called “The Tomboy Of The Air”, Scott was already a renowned adventurer and the second woman to drive an automobile across the United States. She had been the first woman to fly in America when her plane accidentally lifted off during training- Bessia Raiche was the first to fly intentionally.