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  • WCW: Blanche Stuart Scott

    We always admire a woman with a sense of adventure. Blanche Stuart Scott changed the ideas behind aviation and automobiles as possibly the first woman to fly solo in an airplane in the United States.

    From a young age, automobiles entranced Scott. Inspired by Alice Huyler Ramsey, Scott and reporter, Gertrude Phillips, became the second women to drive across the United States. From New York to San Francisco, Blanche showed the U.S. that women could do anything men could, even drive a car and make the repairs.

    Blanche Stuart Scott in her biplane Blanche Stuart Scott in her biplane

    After her cross-country feat, Scott received the attention of Glenn Curtis, who agreed to give her flying lessons. Starting off focusing on taxiing the biplane around, Curtis taught Scott the basics of the plane before she could take to the sky.

    On September 6, Scott’s plane lifted off the ground to about 40 feet, before she gently landed. Though the flight was short, and possibly caused by a gust of wind or the limiter moving, she took to the air like a bird.

    On October 24, 1910, she made her debut as a member of the Curtiss exhibition team. Known as the “Tomboy of the Air”, she was the first woman to fly as a public event in America. Never afraid of a challenge, she became an accomplished stunt pilot, exceeding in “death dives” that would leave the crowds roaring.

    Contracted to fly for Glenn Martin in 1912, Blanche became the first female test pilot. By 1916, she retired by flying because she was bothered by the public interest in air crashes. Scott was also against the aviation industries views that women could not become mechanics or engineers, even after she and other had proved women could be car mechanics.

    Blanche Scott Blanche Scott autograph

    Never losing her love of aviation, in 1948, Chuck Yeager piloted a TF-80C with Scott as the first woman to fly in a jet. Familiar with her past as a stunt pilot, her treated her to some snap rolls and dives. Rekindling her love of flight, she began working to help acquire early aviation materials for the United States Air Force Museum.

    An inspiration to women across the U.S., Scott will always be remember for her ground breaking work in the world of aviation for women.

  • WCW: Bessie Coleman

    A true pioneer of her time, Bessie Coleman was the first female African American pilot and the first African American to hold an international pilot license.

    Bessie Coleman Bessie Coleman

    Coleman was born in Atlanta, TX in 1892 to a large family. Growing up in poverty, she worked hard to make a living and accomplished all 8 grade of schooling, excelling in math. At 23, she moved to Chicago to live with two of her older brothers. There, she heard tales of flights from pilots who were returning from WWI. Motivated by these stories, her brother’s taunting her and the lack of belief that African American women could fly she set out to find a school that would teach her. After repeated rejects from flight schools in the United States, Coleman began to look else where to achieve her dream.

    In 1920, she set off to Paris to learn to fly at a school that would teach her. After seven months of training in a 27-foot unreliable biplane, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded Coleman her international pilot’s license in June of 1921. She trained further in France, specializing in stunt flying and parachuting.

    Bessie Coleman standing near a plane. Bessie Coleman standing near a plane.

    Returning to the United States, she spent the next five years performing at countless air shows. Defending her and others’ rights and equality, she took a stand against locations that wouldn’t admit members of her race and would refuse to perform there. Coleman used her fame to encourage other African Americans to fly by speaking at schools and churches. She also raised money to found a school for African American aviators, wanting to spread the right of flight to other women and men of her race.

    Bessie Coleman standing on her plane in 1922. Bessie Coleman standing on her plane in 1922.

    Tragically, Coleman and her mechanic, William Wills, took their last flight on April 30, 1926. Preparing for an air show the following day, the plane unexpectedly plummeted, and this brave aviator fell to her death.

    Her spirit and accomplishments have not been forgotten. As a revolutionary figure in history, Bessie Coleman has continued to inspire women and men alike to follow their passions and take flight no matter what may stand in their way.

    “I refused to take no for an answer.” – Bessie Coleman

  • WCW: Jerrie Mock

    In 1964, an Ohio housewife went on the flight of a lifetime and became the first woman to fly around the world solo. Jerrie Mock was not your ordinary housewife. Flying her single engine Cessna 180, the "Spirit of Columbus", Mock made her world trip alone in just 29 days. She is an inspiration to pilots and go-getters, like ourselves, everywhere.

    Jerrie Mock standing next to her Cessna 180, the Spirit of Columbus. Jerrie Mock standing next to her Cessna 180, the Spirit of Columbus.

    To learn more about this incredible woman, check out this great article we found on BuzzFeed about her:

  • WCW: Patty Wagstaff

    A champion, teacher, sportsman, and performer, Patty Wagstaff is a modern day inspiration to pilots everywhere. With a family history involved in the skies, Wagstaff took to the air like a bird.

    Photo of Patty Wagstaff by the National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution Photo of Patty Wagstaff by the National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

    Taking the controls of her father’s DC-6 at ten years old with him by her side, her eyes were opened to the incredible feeling of flying. Starting her affair with airplanes with bush flying, Wagstaff’s first airplane she was chartering crashed on take off. Determined to not let the experience get in her way to the skies, she hired friend and future husband, Bob, to travel with her in his Cessna 185 floatplane.

    That was just the beginning. Learning and training to fly everything from WWII fighter planes to jets to helicopters, Wagstaff conquered any aircraft that came her way. Years of training, experience and determination led to earning a spot in the US Aerobatic Team by 1985.

    A six-time recipient of the “First Lady of Aerobatics” Betty Skelton Award, a recipient of the “Sword of Excellence” Airshow Industry Award, and the “Bill Barber Award for Showmanship” are a few of Wagstaff’s proudest achievements. In 2004 she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Air Force Association.

    When she is not training or flying in Airshows and competitions, Wagstaff works as a stunt pilot and aerial coordinator for TV and film. Never having enough of the sky, Patty decided to use her skills and training to help others in more ways than just entertainment. For over ten years, she has traveled to East Africa to train Kenya Wildlife Service pilots in bush, recurrency and aerobatic training. Those pilots go on to protect Kenya’s natural resources, elephants and rhinos. Dedicated to helping other, for three years she flew for the Cal Fire as an Air Attack pilot to help keep California safe from fires.

    Continuing her passion for flying, Wagstaff has opened an aerobatic school in St. Augustine, Florida. At the “Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School” she trains pilots to fly with safety and confidence. When she isn’t teaching others the joys of flight, she is off traveling around the world and enjoying the little things in life. Patty Wagstaff is a true pilot at heart and an American inspiration.

    Photo of Patty Wagstaff from Patty Wagstaff Airshows, Inc. Photo of Patty Wagstaff from Patty Wagstaff Airshows, Inc.

    For more information on Patty, visit her website:

    The information for this blog post came from:

  • WCW: Lydia Litvak, The White Lily of Stanlingrad

    Lydia Litvyak standing next to her plane before a mission. Lydia Litvyak standing next to her plane before a mission.

    At age 14 she enrolled in a flying club, and by 15 performed her first solo flight. It’s no wonder we are so impressed with Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad. She was the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace.

    Ever since she was a child she became interested in flying. For three years she was a flight instructor, then after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit. She was only accepted after exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours. On her third mission flying in a Yak-1 on September 13, 1942, she scored her first two kills.

    Never giving up her femininity, she would dye her hair blonde and place flowers in the cockpit of the plane she flew while serving in the military. Moving up quickly in the military ranks, she and fellow female pilot, Katya Budanova became “free hunters” on February 23, 1943. By June 13, she was appointed flight commander of the 3rd Aviation Squadron within 73rd GvIAP.

    Her last mission was on August 1, 1943 when she did not return to her base. Her plane was shot down during a fight with a pair of German bombers. It was rumored that she survived the crash and taken as a prisoner of war, but she was never heard from again. She ended her career with 11-12 solo kills, at least 4 shared kills and a total of 66 combat missions. On May 6, 1990 she was award Litvak Hero of the Soviet Union.

    Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad
  • Harriet Quimby: First Female Pilot

    Harriet Quimby was the first woman to earn a pilot's license, in 1911. She began touring with the Moisant International Aviators and performing in air shows. Known for having a flare for drama, she designed her own signature flight suit, made of purple satin with a hood. In Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, Quimby chronicled her flights and the adventures she'd go on. On April 16, 1912, in just 59 minutes, she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

    Harriet Quimby in her purple flight suit. Harriet Quimby in her purple flight suit.

    During the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet, on July 1st 1912, Harriet Quimby's plane suddenly pitched forward causing her and William Willard to fall to their deaths. Though she was only 37, Ms Quimby paved the way for women in aviation. From her purple flying suit to her dare devil attitude we admire this early aviator for all her hard work.

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