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Women in Aviation - Timeline

A Chronology of Women Pilots and Women's Flight History

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Amelia Earhart with her bi-plane Friendship on June 14, 1928.

Amelia Earhart with her bi-plane Friendship on June 14, 1928.

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This timeline © 2002-2005 Jone Johnson Lewis.

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

1851 - "Mademoiselle Delon" ascends in a balloon in Philadelphia.

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 is the first woman to fly an airplane solo

1910 - Baroness Raymonde de Laroche obtains a license from the Aero Club of France, the first woman in the world to earn a pilot's license

1910 - September 2 - Blanche Stuart Scott, without permission or knowledge of Glenn Curtiss, the airplane's owner and builder, removes a small wood wedge and is able to get the airplane airborne -- without any flying lessons -- thus becoming the first American woman to pilot an airplane

1910 - October 13 - Bessica Raiche's flight qualifies her, for some, as the first woman pilot in America -- because some discount the flight of Scott as accidental and therefore deny her this credit

1911 - August 11 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first American woman licensed pilot

1911 - September 4 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly at night

1912 - April 16 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to pilot her own aircraft across the English Channel

1913 - Alys McKey Bryant is the first woman pilot in Canada

1916 - Ruth Law sets two American records flying from Chicago to New York

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

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

1921 - Adrienne Bolland is the first woman to fly over the Andes

1921 - Bessie Coleman becomes the first African American, male or female, to earn a pilot's license

1922 - Lillian Gatlin is the first woman to fly across America as a passenger

1928 - June 17 - Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly across the Atlantic -- Lou Gordon and Wilmer Stultz did most of the flying

1929 - August - first Women's Air Derby is held, and Louise Thaden wins, Gladys O'Donnell takes second place and Amelia Earhart takes third

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.

1930 - May 5-24 - Amy Johnson becomes the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia

1930 - Anne Morrow Lindbergh becomes the first woman to earn a glider pilot license

1931 - Ruth Nichols fails in her attempt to fly solo across the Atlantic, but she breaks the world distance record flying from California to Kentucky

1931 - Katherine Cheung becomes the first woman of Chinese ancestry to earn a pilot's license

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

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

1934 - Helen Richey becomes the first woman pilot hired by a regularly schedule airline, Central Airlines

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

1935 - January 11-23 - Amelia Earhart is the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the American mainland

1936 - Beryl Markham becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic east to west

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

1937 - July 2 - Amelia Earhart lost over Pacific

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

1939 - January 5 - Amelia Earhart declared legally dead

1939 - September 15 - Jacqueline Cochran sets an international speed record; the same year, she is the first woman to make a blind landing

1941 - July 1 - Jacqueline Cochrane is the first woman to ferry a bomber across the Atlantic

1941 - Marina Raskova appointed by Soviet Union high command to organize regiments of women pilots

1942 - Nancy Harkness Love and Jackie Cochran organize women flying units and training detachments

1943 - Women make up more than 30% of the work force in the aviation industry

1943 - Love's and Cochran's units are merged into the Women Airforce Service Pilots and Jackie Cochran becomes the Director of Women Pilots -- WASPs flew more than 60 million miles before the program ended in December 1944, with only 38 lives lost of 1830 volunteers and 1074 graduates -- these pilots were seen as civilians and were only recognized as military personnel in 1977

1945 - Melitta Schiller is awarded the Iron Cross and Military Flight Badge in Germany

1949 - Richarda Morrow-Tait landed in Croydon, England, after her round-the-world flight, with navigator Michael Townsend, the first such flight for a woman -- it took one year and one day with a 7 week stop in India to replace the plane's engine and 8 months in Alaska to raise funds to replace her plane

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

1964 - March 19 - Geraldine (Jerrie) Mock is the first woman to pilot a plane solo around the world

1973 - January 29 - Emily Howell Warner is the first woman working as a pilot for a commercial airline (Frontier Airlines)

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

1974 - Mary Barr becomes the first woman pilot with the Forest Service

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

1977 - November - 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

1980 - Lynn Rippelmeyer becomes the first woman to pilot a Boeing 747

1984 - on July 18, Beverly Burns becomes the first woman to captain a 747 cross country, and Lynn Rippelmeyer becomes the first woman to captain a 747 across the Atlantic -- sharing the honor, thereby, of being the first female 747 captains

1994 - Vicki Van Meter is the youngest pilot (to that date) to fly across the Atlantic in a Cessna 210 - she is 12 years old at the time of the flight

1994 - April 21 - Jackie Parker becomes the first woman to qualify to fly an F-16 combat plane

2001 - Polly Vacher becomes the first woman to fly around the world in a small plane - she flies from England to England on a route that includes Australia

2012 - Liu Yang becomes the first woman launched by China into space.

This timeline © 2002-2012 Jone Johnson Lewis.

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