This Day in Women's Aviation

Today is Monday, June 26, 2017 12:08 AM

1942 - The Grumman F6F Hellcat, the most successful aircraft in naval history, flew its first flight. Among the pilots to flight-test the Hellcat right off the assembly line were Cecil (Teddy) Kenyon, Barbara Kibbee Jayne, and Elizabeth Hooker. The trio served as test pilots at Grumman Aircraft throughout World War II, drawing the admiring attention of newspapers and national magazines.

1961 - “Sports Illustrated” ran a story “Fiancé of Danger” about Marie Marvingt, 86, “France's greatest living adventurer.” One of the first licensed women pilots in the world in 1910, she was the first woman to cross the English Channel in a balloon, starred in a movie (The Wings that Save), was the first woman to cross the Sahara by car (1935), and held more than 30 medals, awards, and ribbons for skiing, skating, bobsledding, swimming, flying, and mountain climbing. “She is the most decorated woman in France, a land of decorations.”

1961 - The world’s fourth licensed woman pilot and the first Belgian aviatrix, Helene Dutrieu, 83, died in Paris. She was reputedly the first woman to fly with a passenger (1910) and to pilot a seaplane (1912). In addition to being a pioneer aviatrix, she was also a cycling world champion, stunt cyclist and motorcyclist, automobile racer and stunt driver, wartime ambulance driver, and director of a hospital.

1976 - The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 1980 enrolled women for the first time--157 of them. Because there were no female upper class cadets, the Air Training Officer model was revived, and 15 young female officers were brought in to help with the integration process. Initially segregated from the rest of the Cadet Wing, the female cadets were fully integrated into their assigned squadrons after the first semester.

2010 - The 99s Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma City reopened its doors after several months of remodeling. The guest of honor was NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, the grandson of Amelia Earhart’s personal photographer. To honor the memory of his grandfather and Amelia, Randy had taken one of Amelia’s scarves from the museum’s collection into space with him in 2009. After circling the globe over 220 times, he returned the scarf to the museum, where it displayed with other photos and patches that journeyed into space.