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Women Pioneers in Aviation and Aerospace

1784 - Elisabeth Thible becomes the first woman to fly - in a hot air balloon

1798 - Jeanne Labrosse is the first woman to solo in a balloon

1809 - Marie Madeleine Sopie Blanchard becomes the first woman to lose her life while flying - she was watching fireworks in her hydrogen balloon

1880 - July 4 - Mary Myers is the first American woman to solo in a balloon

1903 - Aida de Acosta is the first woman to solo in a dirigible

1906 - E. Lillian Todd is the first woman to design and build an airplane, though it never flew

1908 - Madame Therese Peltier was the first woman to fly solo in an airplane

March 8, 1910 - Madame La Baronne de Laroche becomes the first woman pilot to be licensed by the Aero Club of France

September 2, 1910 - Blanche Stuart Scott becomes the first (unofficial) American woman to solo

September 16, 1910 - Bessica Faith Raiche becomes the first (official) American woman to solo
Bessica Raiche

August 1, 1911 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first American woman to receive Fédération Aéronautic Internationale (FAI) pilot's license
Harriet Quimby

April 16, 1912 - American Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to pilot a plane across the English Channel

July 17, 1913 - Alys McKey Bryant becomes the first woman to pilot a plane in Canada

March 3, 1915 - The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the first government-sponsored organization in support of aviation research and development, is formed

1918 - The US postmaster general approves the appointment of Marjorie Stinson as the first female airmail pilot
Marjorie Stinson

1919 - Ruth Law becomes the first person to fly air mail in the Philippines

June 15, 1921 - Bessie Coleman becomes the first African-American – male or female – to receive Fédération Aéronautic Internationale (FAI) pilot's license

June 17, 1928 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to cross the Atlantic
Amelia Earhart

October, 1928 - Elinor Smith flew a Waco 10 under all four of New York City's East River bridges, dodging several ships, and became the "Flying Flapper of Freeport." She is the only person ever to do so

Sept. 1, 1929 - Fay Gillis Wells acquired fame as the first woman pilot to parachute from a disabled airplane to save her life which qualified her to be the first woman member of the Caterpillar Club

1929 - Florence Lowe Barnes - Pancho Barnes - becomes the first woman stunt pilot in motion pictures (in "Hell's Angels")

1929 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first president of the Ninety-Nines, an organization of women pilots.

April 20, 1930 - Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow set a transcontinental speed record from Los Angeles to New York, 14 hours, 45 minutes

May 15, 1930 - Ellen Church becomes the first flight attendant ever to fly. During World War II, Church served with the Army Nurse Corps as a flight nurse and earned an Air Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
Ellen Church

May 5-24, 1930 - Amy Johnson becomes the first woman to solo between England and Australia

1931 - Ruth Nichols set several women's records, becoming the only woman to hold simultaneously the women's world speed, altitude, and distance records for heavy landplanes.

April 8, 1931 - Amelia Earhart establishes the Pitcairn autogyro world's altitude record at 18,451 ft.

1932 - Ruthy Tu becomes first woman pilot in the Chinese Army

May 20-21, 1932 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic
Amelia Earhart

1934 - Jean Batten is the first woman to fly round trip England to Australia

1934 - Laura Ingalls flew in a Lockheed Orion from Mexico to Chile, over the Andes Mountains to Rio, to Cuba and then to New York, marking the first flight over the Andes by an American woman, the first solo flight around South America in a landplane, the first flight by a woman from North America to South America, and setting a woman's distance record of 17,000 miles.

1934 - Helen Ritchey is the first documented woman pilot hired by a regularly scheduled airline, Central Airlines.

1934 - aviatrix Elinor Smith, the first woman test pilot for Fairchild and Bellanca (now AviaBellanca) was the first woman to appear on a Wheaties cereal box.

January 11-12, 1935 - Amelia Earhart makes the first solo flight from Hawaii to the American mainland

May 8, 1935 - Amelia Earhart Putnam flies nonstop from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey, in 14 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds, becoming the first person to fly this course nonstop from South to North and the only woman to fly it either way

1936 - Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes beat male pilots also entered in the Bendix Trophy Race, the first victory of women over men in a race in which both men and women could enter

June 1, 1937 - Amelia Earhart begins world flight attempt in Lockheed Electra. She is lost en route to Howland Island from Lae, New Guinea on July 2. She was declared legally dead January 5, 1939.

1937 - Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell earned her pilot's license, making her the first African American woman to be licensed in the United States.
Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell

1938 - Hanna Reitsch becomes the first woman to fly a helicopter and the first woman to be licensed as a helicopter pilot

1939 - Willa Brown, first African American commercial pilot and first African American woman officer in the Civil Air Patrol, helps form the National Airmen's Association of America to help open up the U.S. Armed Forces to African American men

September 15, 1939 - Jacqueline Cochran, flying a Seversky monoplane, sets a new international speed record of 305.926 M.P.H. for 1,000 kilometers in Burbank, California

July 1, 1941 - Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to ferry the Lockheed Hudson bomber across the Atlantic
Jacqueline Cochran

May 14, 1942 - The U.S. Congress establishes The Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), under the direction of Oveta Culp Hobby, editor of the Houston Post.
Oveta Culp Hobby

November 15, 1942 - The first women ever to be flight trained by the Army Air Forces report for flight training in Texas and take Oath.

1943 - The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) are formed. WASPs flew more than 60 million miles before the program ended in December 1944.

March 21, 1943 - Cornelia Fort became the first woman pilot to die in the line of duty for the U.S. military on a routine ferrying flight when another plane struck hers. She was the second woman to volunteer for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, which later merged into the WASPs, who were granted retroactive military status in 1977.
Cornelia Fort

February 10, 1994 - Lt. Jeannie Flynn became the first USAF mission-qualified female fighter pilot in history.

1953 - Jacqueline (Jackie) Cochran becomes first woman to break the sound barrier

October 1, 1958 - NASA becomes operational

November 1, 1958 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was established in the United States

1959 - Geraldyn "Jerrie" Cobb selected for testing for the Mercury astronaut training program
Jerrie Cobb

1960 - Geraldyn "Jerrie" Cobb became the first woman to pass the physical testing regimen developed to help select NASA's first astronauts

1962 - 13 women, known as FLATs (Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees) and later, the Mercury 13, passed the same physical examinations developed for NASA's astronaut selection process. The women are Jerrie Cobb, Wally Funk, Irene Leverton, Myrtle "K" Cagle, Jane B. Hart, Gene Nora Stumbough [Jessen], Jerri Sloan [Truhill], Rhea Hurrle [Woltman], Sarah Gorelick [Ratley], Bernice "B" Trimble Steadman, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Jean Hixson

June 16, 1963 - Russian Cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, becomes the first woman to solo in space. An amateur parachutist, Tereshkova makes 48 Earth orbits aboard the Vostok 6 aircraft.
Valentina Tereshkova

March 19, 1964 - Geraldine Mock, in a Cessna 180, becomes the first woman to fly around the world

April 11, 1964 - Jerrie Mock becomes the first woman to pilot a plane around-the-world successfully
Jerrie Mock

May 4, 1964 - Jacqueline Cochran established the official world speed record for women in a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter, average speed 1,429.297-mph

June 11, 1971 - Sheila Scott flies the first light plane around the World via the North Pole

January 29, 1973 - Emily Howell Warner becomes the first woman employed as a pilot for a scheduled commercial airline (Frontier Airlines)
Emily Howell Warner

1973 - U.S. Navy announces pilot training for women

February 22, 1974 - LTJG Barbara Ann Allen becomes the first woman to be designated a naval aviator.

June 4, 1974 - Sally Murphy is the first woman to qualify as an aviator with the U.S. Army

December 9, 1974 - Wally Funk accepted the job of air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C. She was their first woman investigator.

1976 - Emily Howell Warner becomes the first female U.S. airline captain

November 1977 - Congress passes a bill recognizing WASP pilots of World War II as military personnel, and President Jimmy Carter signs the bill into law

1978 - International Society of Women Airline pilots formed

January 27, 1978 - The 8th Astronaut Candidates Class is the first to include women (6 women in class of 35): Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judith Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan. All are either scientists, doctors or engineers and will eventually fly as mission specialists.
First Women Astronauts

August 9, 1980 - Jacqueline Cochran died. At the time of her death, she held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot, male or female, in aviation history.

February 7, 1983 - Elizabeth Dole was the first woman appointed Secretary of Transportation. In this role, she was the first woman to have served as the head of a branch of the United States Military, as the United States Coast Guard was under the Department of Transportation at the time.

June 18-24, 1983 - STS-7 launched and Sally K. Ride became the first American female astronaut
Sally K. Ride

1984 - In the same month, Lynn Rippelmeyer and Beverly Burns became the first female 747 captains. Rippelmeyer flew transatlantic; Burns flew transcontinental.

July 1984 - Svetlana Savitskaya, USSR cosmonaut, becomes the first woman to walk in space
Svetlana Savitskaya

August 1984 - NASA astronaut Anna Fisher becomes the first person to retrieve a malfunctioning satellite, using the orbiter remote manipulator arm

October 11, 1984 - Kathryn D. Sullivan became the first American woman to conduct a spacewalk as part of the STS 41-G mission

December 14-23, 1986 - Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan broke one of aviation's last records: to fly around the world non-stop and non-refuelled. The round-the-world flight of Voyager, which took off from and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, lasted nine days, three minutes, and forty-four seconds.
Jeana Yeager

July 1988 - Capt. Jacquelyn S. "Jackie" Parker became the first woman Air Force pilot to attend U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California.

1990 - Patty Wagstaff wins her first of three U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Titles (she also wins in 1992 and 1994)
Patty Wagstaff

May 18, 1991 - Helen Patricia Sharman flew on the commercial Juno mission to the Mir space station, becoming the first British astronaut and first non-American, non-Soviet female astronaut.

October 3, 1991 - Marta Bohn-Meyer becomes the first woman crew member of the SR-71 Blackbird
Marta Bohn-Meyer

January 22, 1992 - Roberta Bondar becomes the first Canadian woman astronaut on Discovery, STS-42

January 25, 1992 - Lee Hixon becomes the first woman to fly the Gemini twin-engine helicopter

September 12, 1992 - Dr. Mae C. Jemison blasted into orbit aboard the space shuttle Endeavor to become the first woman of color to go into space.
Dr. Mae C. Jemison

April 1993 - NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa becomes the first Hispanic American woman in space

May 13, 1993 - Kathryn (Kay) Patricia Hire became the first female in the United States assigned to a combat aircrew when she reported to Patrol Squadron Sixty-Two (VP-62). Hire was selected as a NASA astronaut in December 1994.

1994 - Vicki Van Meter, age 12, becomes the youngest pilot to make a transatlantic flight in a Cessna 210
Vicki Van Meter

April 21, 1994 - Maj. Jackie Parker becomes the first U.S. woman to be qualified in a F-16 combat fighter

July 1994 - Chiaki Mukai becomes the first Japanese woman in space on STS-65.

February 3-11, 1995 - STS-63: Eileen Collins became the first woman Space Shuttle pilot.
Eileen Collins

June/July 1995 - Bonnie Dunbar and Ellen Baker are among the first American crew to dock with the Russian space station

August 17, 1996 - Claudie Haignere becomes the first female French astronaut on Soyuz TM-24.
Claudie Haignere

September 26, 1996 - STS-79: Shannon Lucid returns from Mir after setting U.S. record for continuous stay in space and beginning a more than two-year continuing U.S. presence in space. Lucid also is the first woman to be awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Shannon Lucid

May 1998 - Nearly 2/3 of the flight control team for STS-95 were women, including the launch commentator, Lisa Malone, the ascent commentator, Eileen Hawley, the flight director, Linda Ham, and the communicator between crew and mission control, Susan Still.

August 4, 1997 - Jane Garvey becomes the first female administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
Jane Garvey

December 1998 - NASA astronaut Nancy Currie completes the first task in assembling the International Space Station

July 22-27, 1999 - STS-93 launched and NASA astronaut Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to command a space mission aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

September 6, 2000 - Jennifer Murray became the first woman to make a solo flight around the world in a helicopter. The journey took 99 days.

May 24, 2001 - Polly Vacher touches down in Birmingham, England and becomes the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a small plane via a Pacific Ocean route that took her to Australia

November 14, 2005 - Shana Dale becomes the first female deputy administrator of NASA, becoming the highest-ranking woman at NASA in its history
Shana Dale

March 2006 - Maj. Nicole Malachowski debuted as the first woman pilot selected to fly in any American military demonstration team, the Air Force Demo Squadron better known as the Thunderbirds, flying F-16Cs.
Nicole Malachowski

September 28, 2006 - The world's first female tourist, Anousheh Ansari, landed after a 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS). Launched on September 18, 2006 from Baiknour, Iranian-born U.S. Citizen Ansari spent eight days at the ISS and carried out human physiology experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA). Ansari travelled to the station onboard Soyuz TMA-9.
Anoush Ansari

June 22, 2007 - NASA astronaut Sunita Williams set women's record of consecutive time in space of 194 days, 18 hours and 58 minutes aboard STS-117, the International Space Station and STS-118. Williams, born in Euclid, OH, broke the record of 188 days set by NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid. Lucid lived aboard the Russian Space Station Mir in 1996.
Barbara Morgan, Sunita Williams, Pamela Melory, Peggy Whitson

October 12, 2007 - Peggy Whitson becomes the first female commander of the space station during Expedition 16.
Peggy Whitson

October 25, 2007 - Peggy Whitson and Pam Melroy became the first two women to command spacecraft in space concurrently. Whitson was the space station commander, and Melroy was commander of space shuttle Discovery on its STS-120 mission.
Peggy Whitson and Pam Melroy

December 2007 - NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson set the record for the total number of spacewalking hours for women in space in December 2007. She completed five spacewalks during two different expeditions to the International Space Station for a total of 39 hours and 46 minutes.

January 1, 2008 - Dr. Wanda Austin took over as CEO at The Aerospace Corp., becoming the aerospace and defense industry's first African-American female CEO
Dr. Wanda Austin

April 8, 2008 - Yi So-yeon becomes the first Korean in space on the Soyuz TMA-12.

April 16, 2008 - Peggy Whitson breaks Mike Foale's record for cumulative time in space for a U.S. astronaut of 374 days in space. She lands Saturday, April 19, 2008, with a total of 377 days in space, on two flights, ranking 20th all-time.

April 19, 2008 - The return of the Expedition 16 crew from the International Space Station is an historic moment for women in aerospace. Aboard the Soyuz is Commander Peggy Whitson, Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko and spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. It's the first time women outnumbered men on a spacecraft.

May 2008 - Maj. Jennifer Grieves is the first female helicopter aircraft commander in the history of Marine One, the HMX-1 helicopter the president of the United States flies on.

July 16, 2009 - An all-female crew piloted Marine One on the last day of Maj. Jennifer Grieves rotation as the first female pilot of Marine One, the presidential helicopter. Her co-pilot was Major Jennifer Marine. Sgt. Rachael Sherman was the crew chief.
Jennifer Grieves, Rachael Sherman, Jennifer Marino

September 29, 2009 - NASA astronaut and Expedition 20/21 Flight Engineer Nicole Stott becomes the first woman to tweet from space, as @Astro_Nicole.

October 2009 - Peggy Whitson becomes the first woman to serve as chief of NASA's Astronaut Office.