October 11, 1927 Actress and adventurer Ruth Elder and her flight instructor George Haldeman took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York in an attempt to make Elder the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Elder’s plane the “American Girl” was not up to the task and crashed into the ocean near the Azores. Both Elder and Haldeman survived. Haldeman had been Elinor Smith’s flight instructor as well and had coached Elinor for her first solo flight.
October 10, 1921 Wingwalker Lillian Boyer made her first plane to plane transfer. During her eight year career she hung from a biplane by her toes or teeth, balanced on her head, and stood on the wing while the plane made a loop. She also parachuted from the wing and once landed in the seat of a fairgrounds Ferris wheel.
October 9, 1929 A letter went out to all 117 licensed female pilots in the United States- “It seems that the women pilots in this country should have some sort of an organization”. Ninety nine women joined as charter members and thus the Ninety-Nines, an International organization of women pilots, was born. Although Amelia Earhart is often credited with founding the Ninety-Nines the letter was signed by Fay Gillis, Margorie Brown, Frances Harrell, and Neva Paris. Earhart attended the first meeting.
October 8, 1982 Nikki Caplan and copilot Jane Buckles established the women’s distance record for gas balloons, flying 843.59 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Duncombe, Iowa. In 1973, Caplan had been the first pilot permitted to fly an aircraft through the St. Louis Arch.
October 7, 1908 Edith Berg became the first female airplane passenger when Wilbur Wright took her on a demonstration flight. Wright tied a rope around Edith’s full skirt to keep it from getting tangled in the wires and gears of the Wright Flyer. When a newspaper published a picture of Edith still wearing the rope a new fashion, the “hobble skirt”, was born.
October 6, 1999 Danielle Francoeur and her all woman team placed second in the America’s Challenge Gordon Bennett Air Race taking off in Albuquerque, New Mexico and landing in Goodman, Mississippi. In 1906. James Gordon Bennett started the long distance balloon race. The America’s challenge mimics the European version, testing the balloon which can fly the greatest distance from Albuquerque. Francoeur is participating in this year’s race as well. If weather cooperates the race is expected to start today.
October 5, 1929 Fay Gillis earned her pilot’s license and immediately became a major force in the world of women’s aviation. Along with Amelia Earhart she founded the 99s, the international organization of women pilots. Gillis became the first female member of the “Caterpillar Club” when she was forced to bail out of her plane the day after her first solo. To qualify you must leap from an airplane to save your life. Her plane crashed but she continued on with her successful career as an international journalist. She landed a plane for the last time at age 92 and died in 2002.
October 4, 1994 Cosmonaut Yelena Kodakova launched into space with Soyuz TM-17. She spent 169 days in space and is credited as the first woman to make a long-endurance spaceflight. In 1997 she flew aboard the space shuttle Atlantis and now serves as a deputy in the Duma, Russia’s parliament.
October 3, 1991 Marta Bohn-Meyer became the only woman to fly the SR 71 Blackbird. Bohn-Meyer, the chief engineer of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, was also a member of the U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Team. She was killed in 2005 when, during an aerobatic practice flight, the front hinge canopy of her aerobatic plane suffered a catastrophic failure and the plane crashed.