This Day in Women's Aviation

Today is Monday, November 20, 2017 10:15 AM

1912 - Ruth Law, 23, received her pilot's license (No. 188) and would become a barnstormer. After 4 years, she would abandon flying because of the risks involved and because it would become apparent that there was little or no place in commercial airline flying for women. "In aviation, there seems no place for the woman engineer, mechanic, or flier," she explained. "Too often, people paid money to see me risk my neck, more as a freak--a woman freak pilot--than as a skilled flier. No more!"

1917 - The day after her greatest feat--breaking the cross-country distance flying record by flying 590 miles non-stop from Chicago to New York State--Ruth Law, 28, flew on to New York City with an Army lieutenant named Henry "Hap" Arnold as a passenger. When her fuel cut out over Manhattan, she coolly glided to a safe landing on Governors Island.

1920 - Bessie Coleman embarked on her voyage to France. She enrolled in the Ecole d'Aviation des Freres Caudron, completing a 10-month course of study in only 7 months. She learned to fly in a Nieuport Type 82 biplane, and although she witnessed a fellow student die in a crash, she would not be deterred from achieving her goal. The following June, she would become the first African-American woman awarded an international pilot's license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

1924 - Mary Rawlinson was born in Greenwood, Delaware. She would first solo in 1943, the same year her older sister, Mabel, died in a WASP training mission in North Carolina. She would start teaching in 1964 and, by 1995 would accumulate over 10,500 flight hours--more than half as a flight instructor. She would also hold positions as air taxi pilot, ground instructor, airport manager, FBO owner and operator, airplane salesperson, and aviation writer and publisher.

1937 - Flight Officer A.E. Clouston and Betty Kirby-Green established a record for a return flight from the United Kingdom to South Africa. Flying a de Havilland DH88 Comet, the flight took 5 days, 17 hours, and 28 minutes.

1937 - An air parade--featuring planes from the Navy, Coast Guard, and Army as well as many civilian aircraft--was held at Floyd Bennett Field in New York City in memory of Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in the Pacific 4 months earlier. She was among many aviators who launched or ended record-breaking flights at the historic field.

1976 - The first commercial flight with more than one female crew member occurred when First Officer Elena Folch Serra and Flight Engineer Concepcion Barnard Ruiz flew a B727-200 on Compagnia Mexicana de Aviacion.

1988 - The first lady of Australian aviation, Lores Bonney, turned 81. She was the first to fly solo in a DH-60 Moth from Australia to England in 1933 and from Australia to South Africa in 1937.

2004 - One of Lansing Michigan's pioneer female aviators, Marion "Babe" Weyant Ruth, 86, died. Her next birthday, February 7, 2005, would be proclaimed Marion “Babe” Ruth day in Ingham County as a tribute to her many accomplishments and for serving as a role model and leader for women.

2009 - The first women combatants in the armed forces of India, Ambica Hooda and Seema Rani Sharma, both 22, were awarded their wings by the Navy. They would conduct military operations as observers and airborne tacticians on Dornier aircraft used for transportation and aerial surveillance.