Nadeshda Degtereva- Dressed Like A Man, Flew Like a Woman

January 1915 Though she had no pilot’s license, during WWI Nadeshda Degtereva disguised herself as a man and flew missions on the Galician front, performing reconnaissance against the Austrians. Degtereva became a national hero when she was injured in combat and discovered to be a woman.

Stinson Sisters Build An Airport

January 18, 1916 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson build their own airport in San Antonio, Texas, and operated a flight school there with brothers Eddie and Jack as mechanics. Katherine was already a famous stunt pilot, the first woman to perform a loop. Marjorie had followed in her sister’s flying footsteps, and in 1915 was the only woman inducted into the U.S. Aviation Reserve Corps. The Stinson’s students became known as “The Texas Escadrille.”

China Welcomes Women Pilots

January 17, 1984 China’s Civil Aviation Flight College recruited its first female students. Although Chinese women had been trained as military pilots since 1949 no women had been trained to fly commercial flights. The school did not accept women for helicopter training until 2009.

Too Fast For A Woman?

January 16, 1929 Aviatrix Bobbi Trout sent a letter to Orville Wright, chair of the National Aeronautic Association Contest Committee, demanding that a separate class of records for women be reinstated. Wright and others contended that special women’s records should not be recognized even though women were not permitted to compete in powerful planes “inappropriate to the fair sex”. For example, Opal Kunz was not allowed to fly her Travel Air in the first Powderpuff Derby because it was “too fast for a woman to fly.”

Betty Budde- A Moving Target

January 15, 1943 Betty Deuser Budde joined the third class of Women’s Flight Training to become a WASP. After graduation she became a tow target pilot, dragging a 36 foot target behind her plane, flying for hours at a time as ground troops shot at her with everything from machine guns to 99mm cannons.

Shannon Lucid, Space Traveler

January 14, 1943 Astronaut Shannon Matilda Wells Lucid was born in Shanghai, China. In 1996, she remained in space from March 22 to September 26, at 188 days the longest duration space flight ever. Her record was broken in 2007 by Sunita Williams, another female astronaut.

Nellie Zabel Willhite Won’t Stay On The Ground

January 13, 1928 Though deaf from a childhood case of measles, Nellie Zabel Willhite soloed after only 13 hours of flight instruction. She became a noted stunt pilot and helped plan the first Powderpuff Derby. She said “Even though I could barely hear the engine roar, I could tell right away if anything was wrong – just from the vibrations.”

Blanche Scott Ascends

January 12, 1970 America’s first female professional pilot, Blanche Stuart Scott, passed away. Scott was known as the “Tomboy of the Air”. Although Scott retired from flying in 1916, in 1948 she became the first woman to ride in a jet.

Fly On Beverly Sharp

January 11, 2006 A flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of the life of pilot and Ninety-Nines International president Beverly Sharp. Sharp was a community activist who also authored the FAA Accident Prevention Counselor Handbook and accumulated over 1000 flight hours.

Amelia Earhart Hulas From Hawaii To California

January 10, 1935 Amelia Earhart prepared to take off from Wheeler Field in Oahu, Hawaii in her Lockhead Vega. Her plan to fly across the ocean using only visual navigation was controversial and the Department of Commerce had been asked to prohibit the flight. She departed the next day in secrecy, the take off attended by less than 100 people.  She would land in Oakland, California on January 11, becoming the first person to fly from Hawaii to the US mainland.