Women in aviation

Women in aviation

A collection of legendary female personalities

Brave men and women have been fascinated by aviation for centuries. Undermined by gender prejudices and regulation restrictions, however, women’s road to aviation success has all but been a smooth ride. As we approach Women’s Day, we are taking the chance, this year, to pay tribute to some of the most influential female personalities within our industry; here is a selection of women who have shaped the aviation industry to pave the way for today’s aviatrices.

History of women in aviation

They invented, built and flew the first aeroplane – but they couldn’t have done any of this without the help of their sister. The Wright brothers’ sibling, Katharine Wright Haskell, was the major driver of what turned out to be a pioneering achievement in aviation.

Not only did she support her brothers emotionally, she also bore all the expenses of the Wright company; eventually, she took part in the final demonstration flight and, together with her brothers, was then awarded the Légion d’Honneur. Katharine Wright could foresee the disruptive effect aviation could have on our lives; in addition to having the modern mindset to advocate for great changes in technology.

“If ever the world thinks of us in connection with aviation, it must remember our sister.” – Wilbur Wright.

And so did Madame Baroness Raymonde de Laroche of France who is remembered for being the first woman to earn a pilot licence back in 1910. With personalities like Katherin Stinson – the first woman to own a flying school in 1913, Ruth Law – the first one to perform a complete night flight on the same year, and Amelia Earhart, who is remembered for her first female solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, the list of the 20th century’s relevant female personalities is promisingly lengthy.

Women in jets

  • As the wife of Learjet founder Bill Lear, Moya Olsen Lear is figuratively regarded as the mother of the business jet industry. Supporting her husband’s business idea from the very beginning, she was the woman who witnessed the first private luxury aircraft company as it came to life.
  • However, in 1945, it was South African Rosamund Steenkamp who became the first woman to fly a jet. She is remembered for flying a Gloster Meteor III for the British Air Transport’s Auxiliary Service whilst on the other side of the world, the legendary Ann Baumgartner Car was the first pilot to fly a United States Army Air Forces jet aircraft (Bell YP-59A).
  • To dig deeper into the history of women in aviation, we remember Jacqueline Cochran, who became the director of the Woman Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) in 1943 and was also the first female pilot to fly a jet across the Atlantic ocean. To add to her achievements, we recall the time in 1953 when she literally broke a record by breaking (pun intended) the sound barrier while on an F-86 Saberjet.
  • Among other female personalities, the frequently-commemorated Ulrike Flender was the first German female fighter pilot whereas Nivedita Bhasin of Indian Airlines became the youngest woman pilot in world civil aviation history to command a commercial jet aircraft.

Women in aviation today

Whereas it didn’t take long for women to find a home in the cockpit from the early age of aviation, it was between the 1960s and the 1980s that the number of female pilots grew notably. Today, aviation is expanding globally and so is the number of women working as pilots, air traffic controllers, engineers and brilliant managers. Worldwide organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) or the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) are championing barrierless career opportunities for young women with an interest in aviation and a passion for getting great things done.

GlobeAir women professionals

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