This Day in Women's Aviation

Today is Tuesday, June 19, 2018 2:59 AM

1925 - Bessie Coleman made her Texas flying debut at a Houston auto racetrack that was renamed Houston Aerial Transport Field in honor of the occasion. Sixty years earlier to the day in Galveston, Texas, Union troops announced the end of the Civil War, which became known as Juneteenth.

1928 - The day after her historic flight as the first woman to cross the Atlantic (as a passenger), Amelia Earhart landed at Woolston in Southampton, England to a rousing welcome. She flew an Avro Avian 594 Avian III owned by Lady Heath, an Irish woman who was the first woman to earn a British commercial pilot license. Amelia later purchased the aircraft and had it shipped back to the U.S.

1932 - Canadian opera singer Lissaint Beardmore used a Professor glider (sailplane) to become the first person to cross the English Channel in a glider flight--from Lympne in Kent, England to St. Inglevert near Boulogne, France.

1938 - The "Sunday Sun and Guardian" announced that Betty Mullins--an office worker in Sydney, Australia--established what would become the Australian Women's Flying Corps (AWFC). In her article entitled "Women as War Birds if Wanted," Betty outlined her plan "to make available to air-minded young women theoretical and practical flying training, together with instruction in first aid and other subjects, that would make the corps a valuable asset to Australia." Her concept would be rebuffed by H.C. Thorby, the Minister for Defence, who would write in the "Telegraph" the following day, "I do not think that flying--either commercial or for defence--is a part of a woman's normal role. This heavy and arduous work must remain part of a man's domain." Despite the minister's objections, the AWFC would play an integral role in Australia's wartime efforts.

1963 - After cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, she ejected from her Russian Vostok 6 space capsule about 20,000 feet above the ground, and parachuted into Kazakhstan. Her space flight of 48 orbits--totaling 70 hours, 50 minutes--gave her more time in orbit than all the U.S. Mercury astronauts combined. Her historic flight earned her the Order of Lenin and Hero of the Soviet Union awards. Later she served as the president of the Soviet Women's Committee and became a member of the Supreme Soviet, the USSR's national parliament, and the Presidium, a special panel within the Soviet government.

1983 - After dispatching 82 men into space in 22 years, the U.S. sent a woman--Sally Ride--into orbit on the seventh space shuttle mission, the second for Challenger, on a satellite-deploy mission. Sixteen months later, Sally would ride into orbit again, also aboard Challenger, on a flight to explore the earth, its oceans, and its atmosphere.

2009 - The Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame named aviation maintenance professional Jennifer Baker of Nashville among its 2009 class of inductees. Since 1978, she served as the director and owner of Nashville's Baker's School of Aeronautics, which enrolled over 1,100 students annually from more than 125 countries. She was named the FAA’s Tennessee Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year in 1999 and served on many aviation industry advisory committees.

200l - Colleen C. Barrett, 56, became president and chief operating officer of Southwest Airlines and joined its board of directors.

2010 - After enduring 4 hours of hurricane-force winds, frigid temperatures, and evading birds, wing-walker Ashley Battles, 27, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, set a new record. On the 33-foot wingspan of a Super 450 Boeing Stearman, flying 1,000 feet above San Francisco, she shattered the previous wing-walking record of 3 hours, 23 minutes set by a Frenchman in 1990. The Guinness Book of World Records would recognize her feat as the world’s longest wing-walk.