So you want to be a pilot, and you are a woman. Today about 7% of airline pilots worldwide are female. If you are a well-trained pilot and meet the requirements of the airline, you could find yourself with a fabulous career.
Women also fly in the military and in space, in helicopters and in corporate jets. They do cropdusting, hauling freight, patrolling oil pipelines, and teaching students to fly.
And it’s nothing new. Women have made significant contributions to flight ever since the beginning of aviation. Blanche Scott was the first woman pilot, in 1910, just seven years after the Wright brothers first 12 second flight. And a year later, Harriet Quimby became the first licensed pilot. In 1912, she was also the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Louise Thaden set the women’s endurance record with a flight of 22 hours, 3 minutes, from Oakland, California. It was a short-lived record, though: Elinor Smith broke Louise’s record a month later with 26 hours, 21 minutes.
Other historical firsts for female pilots: First woman of Chinese ancestry to fly was Katherine Cheung in Los Angelese in 1931. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh, was the first woman glider pilot. Phoebe Fairgrave Omelie was the first woman transport pilot. Considered to be one of America’s top woman pilots in the 1920′s and 1930′s, she developed a program for training female flight instructors and was appointed as Special Asisstant for Air Intelligence of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (which was the forerunner organization to NASA).
in 1921 Bessie Coleman was the first African-American female pilot. She moved to France to learn to fly at the famous Ecole d’Aviation de Frerer Caudron. She then returned to the US and enjoyed a barnstorming career until 1926. The first African-American commercial pilot was Willa Brown from Chicago, Illinois. She taught aviation and founded more than one flight schools. In 1939 Willa formed the National Airmen’s Association of America to get blacks into the US Army as aviation cadets. Willa also achieved many other "firsts" in aviation history.
By 1930 there were 200 women pilots, by 1935 there were approximately 800 licensed female pilots. A major breakthrough in women’s aviation history was allowing women to fly air races against men. In 1936 Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes won the important Bendix Trophy Race.