Wally Funk’s Journey to Space

In 1995, seven of the Mercury 13 met at Kennedy Space Center to see Space Shuttle Discovery. Wally is second from the left. Wally Funk was the first female Federal Aviation Agency Inspector, first female Air Safety Investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, and flight instructor for over 3,000 students. She was also one […]

Katharine Wright: Sister of Pioneers

Born in 1874 in Ohio, Katharine Wright was the younger sister of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. She became the only sibling to graduate from college when she earned a teaching degree from Oberlin College.  She worked as a high school Latin teacher as Wilbur and Orville began experimenting with flying machines. When the […]

Valentina Tereshkova: First Woman in Space

Born in 1937 in Maslennikovo, Russia, U.S.S.R., Valentina Tereshkova became interested in parachuting as a young woman while working at a textile mill. She trained in skydiving at the local Aeroclub and made her first jump at age 22. She soon began training as a competitive parachutist. Valentina’s parachuting experience made her an ideal candidate […]

Hélène Dutrieu: First Woman to fly with a Passenger

Born in 1877 in Tournai, Belgium, Hélène’s fame originally came from her cycling career. Following in the footsteps of her older brother Eugène, a professional cyclist, she started as a professional track cyclist. She set multiple cycling speed records throughout the 1890s. Hélène began performing stunts on both bicycle and motorcycle at variety shows in […]

Jerrie Cobb: Paving the Way for Female Astronauts

Born in 1931 in Oklahoma, Jerrie was first introduced to aviation by her father, Lt. Col. William H. Cobb, who was a pilot. She rode in an airplane for the first time at the age of 12, in her father’s 1936 Waco biplane. By age 16, she was stunt flying around the Great Plains dropping […]

Ellen Church: First Female Flight Attendant

Born in Iowa in 1904, Ellen studied nursing and worked as a registered nurse in San Francisco. During her free time, she took flying lessons and earned her pilot’s license. Ellen passed by the San Francisco office of Boeing Air Transport (now United Airlines) on her route to work and decided to inquire about a […]