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 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.
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 12, 1904 Barnstorming pilot Katherine Sui Fun Cheung was born in Canton, China. At age 17, Cheung moved to the United States to live with her father. She soon began flying lessons and became the first Chinese American woman licensed to fly. Cheung traveled the country performing complicated aerobatic maneuvers at fairs and air shows. “What’s the point of flying a plane if you can’t have fun doing it?”she said.