[Royal S. Copeland, left; Amelia Earhart, right]
Amelia Mary Earhart was the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record and set many aviation records. She wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. Defying conventional feminine behavior, a young Earhart climbed trees, "belly slammed" her sled to start it downhill, and hunted rats with a .22 rifle. She also kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented fields, including film direction and production, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering. After graduating from Hyde Park High School in 1915, Earhart attended Ogontz, a girl's finishing school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She left in the middle of her second year to work as a nurse's aide in a military hospital in Canada during WWI, attended college, and later became a social worker at Denison House, a settlement house in Boston. 19-year-old Amelia Mary Earhart attended a stunt-flying exhibition. A pilot spotted Earhart and her friend, who were watching from an isolated clearing, and dove at them. "I am sure he said to himself, 'Watch me make them scamper... I did not understand it at the time, but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by." On December 28, 1920, pilot Frank Hawks gave her a ride that would forever change her life. "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly." Earhart took her first flying lesson on January 3, 1921. In six months, managed to save enough money to buy her first plane. The second-hand Kinner Airster was a two-seater biplane painted bright yellow—Earhart named her newest obsession "The Canary" and used it to set her first women's record by rising to an altitude of 14,000 feet. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career, and disappearance continues to this day.
Élisabeth Thible flew above Lyon, France in 1784. Jeanne Labrosse became the first woman to parachute. Sophie Blanchard took her first balloon flight in 1804, and was made Napoleon's chief of air service in 1811. In 1903, Aida de Acosta, an American woman vacationing in Paris piloted airship, becoming the first known woman to pilot a motorized aircraft. Katharine Wright flew the Wright Model A. Emma Lilian Todd designed her own airplanes. Her first plane flew in 1910. Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick became the first woman to jump from an aircraft in 1913. Raymonde de Laroche, was the world's first licensed female pilot. Seven other French women followed her in 1901-1902. Blanche Scott claimed to be the first American woman to fly an airplane and established herself as a daredevil pilot. Bessica Raiche recognized as the first American woman to make a solo flight. Harriet Quimby became the USA's first licensed female pilot on August 1, 1911 and the first woman to cross the English Channel by airplane the following year. Lidia Zvereva, the first female Russian license performed her first aerobatic loop in 1914. In 1913, Lyubov Golanchikova signed a contract to become the first female test pilot to test "Farman-22" manufactured in Russia. In 1916, Zhang Xiahun (Chinese: 張俠魂) China's first female pilot crashed, becoming a national heroine when she survived. Katherine Stinson became the first woman air mail pilot, when the United States Postal Service. The following year, Ruth Law flew the first official U.S. air mail to the Philippines. In 1936, Hanna Reitsch of Germany became one of the first persons to fly a fully controllable helicopter and earned the first woman helicopter pilot's license. In 1937 Sabiha Gökçen of Turkey became the first trained woman combat pilot, participating in search operations and bombing flight. In 1943 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were flying new planes from factories to Army Air Force bases, worked as test pilots. In 1942 Soviet Union created an all-woman combat flight unit, the 588th Night-Bomber Air-Regiment or the Night Witches. They flew harassment and precision bombing missions and "dumped 23,000 tons of bombs on the German invaders". The Soviets also had the only women to be considered flying aces like Lydia Litvyak and Yekaterina Budanova.