November 12, 1912 Ruth Law earned her pilot’s license. In 1916, Law flew nonstop from Chicago to New York, smashing distance records by over 100 miles. By 1917 she earned as much as $9000 a week flying in exhibitions. During World War I, Law campaigned unsuccessfully for women’s right to fly military aircraft.
November 11, 1988 Amelia Earhart was inducted into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame. The aviatrix was born in Atchison, Kansas in 1897 and considered it her hometown through her lifetime. In 1986, Kansan Olive Ann Beech, the cofounder of Beech Aircraft, was the Hall of Fame’s first inductee.
November 10, 1944 WASP Hazel Ying Lee was summoned to the Bell Aircraft Factory in Niagara Falls, New York to deliver a P-63 KingCobra to Great Falls, Montana. Lee was a member of the elite Pursuit Squad, an all woman ferrying group that delivered aircraft from American factories to the Soviet Air Force. When the aircraft arrived the control tower in Montana was overwhelmed and gave conflicting landing instructions. Lee’s plane collided with another P-63 and was engulfed in flames. On November 25, 1944 she died of burns received in the accident.
November 9, 1979 Louise Thaden passed away. In 1929, Thaden, Bobbi Trout and Elinor Smith fought a three way endurance duel for most hours aloft. Seventeen-year-old Elinor Smith eventually came out ahead. Thaden went on to beat Amelia Earhart to win the Powderpuff Derby and was the first woman to win the Bendix Trophy. In 1956, the Bentonville, Arkansas airport was renamed Thaden Field.
November 8, 1855 French actress Leontine Gaschon and aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe were united in holy matrimony in a silver and blue balloon hovering over New York City. The New York Herald reported that the “happy and loving couple dashed away into the clear and cloudless night for a romantic flight to a wedding made in heaven.” Thaddeus Lowe flew reconnaissance in the Civil War and when his balloon crashed during the battle of Bull Run Leontine dressed as an old hag to rescue him from behind rebel lines.
November 7, 1930 With only 15 hours of flight experience, sixteen-year-old Nancy Harkness left Milton Academy with two friends to fly to Vassar in Poughkeepsie, New York. Harkness’ plane ran into rough weather and she did not know how to read a compass. After making a successful emergency landing she vowed to train more seriously. During WWII, she became the director of WAFS, then Executive for all WASP ferrying operations. She was awarded the Air Medal and continued to lead the charge for women in aviation.
November 6, 1934 Freda Thompson became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. The trip took 19 days of flying (and 20 more days of waiting for a part when her plane was damaged on a forced landing in Greece.) In 1994, the Australian Post honored Freda Thompson with a postage stamp bearing her image.
November 5, 1917 Jacqueline Auriol was born. Auriol, the daughter-in-law of the president of France, was one of her country’s most accomplished woman pilots. She broke the sound barrier and was one of few women to fly the Concorde.
November 3, 1902 Air racer and flight instructor Edna Gardner Whyte was born. When no one would hire her as a professional pilot Whyte built her own airport and founded a flying school. She trained thousands of pilots and won over 125 flying trophies.