Phoebe Omlie

I have written about so many of the pioneer women pilots. All of them are superb pilots in different ways. Unfortunately, each have one thread in common. Except for Amelia Earhart, all are unknown to the general public but in their day they were unique women.

   During her teen years she hung around an airport near her home. She talked a flight  instructors to take her up in his plane. He decided to make the plane spin and perform other acrobatic maneuvers. He hoped to scare Phoebe so she would never want to fly again but she couldn’t wait to fly again be up in the sky again.

      After graduating from high school she became a secretary but her heart was in the sky. She was fascinated about parachutes. She hired a teacher and financed the lesson .

Soon she married her teacher, Vern Omlie. He owned a flying school and together they formed the Omlie Flying Circus. Phoebe became very proficient in parachute jumping and even wing walking. Here was this tiny lady hanging by her teeth or walking on the wing of a plane. She even did the stunt flying in a movie called the “Perils of Pauline.”

The couple practiced very carefully and eventually Phoebe could move from one plane to another.  Incredible. Vern and Phoebe didn’t earn a lot of money with the flying circus. But Phoebe did get so much attention. This stunt helped Phoebe get the job of working on stunts for silent movie.

Vern and Phoebe flew very important mercy missions forest fires or floods. This showed the government and the public that planes were valuable in non military situations. They also were plane spotters. Phoebe Omlie is one of those fabulous pilots.

For More Information See:

High, Wide and Frightened: Louise Thaden

Women Aloft: Valerie Moolman

Powder Puff Derby: Gene Nora Gensen

Powder Puff Derby: Mike Walker

High, Wide and Frightened: Louise Thaden

Women Aloft: Valerie Moolman

Powder Puff Derby: Gene Nora Gensen

Powder Puff Derby: Mike Walker


  • First federal pilots license
  • First licensed female transport pilot
  • First position winner in light category in Powder Puff Derby
  • First women to be appointed to a federal position in the field of aviation
  • Highest altitude record.
  • Editor of Aero Digest
  • Organized the Memphis Aero Club
  • First woman official in the government to represent the field of aviation. She acted as a technical adviser the National Advisory Committee with the Bureau of Air Commerce.
  • Created navigational aids
  • Worked other pilots in the Air Marking Program
  • Worked with Amelia Earhart to make an air grid of the United States.
  • Coordinator in the research department of the Civil Aeronautics Administration

In 1936 Vern died in a plane crash. He was a passenger on a commercial flight. He was so careful about his flying and never crashed. It was sad that Vern died in such a tragic way. After Vern’s death Phoebe’s spiraled She then died of lung cancer.



























































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