- Louise Thaden
- Gladys O’Donnell
- Amelia Earhart
- Blache Noyes
- Ruth Elder
- Mary Haizlip
- Opa; Kunz
- Mary Von Mach
- Vera Dawn Walker
- Phoebe Omalie
- Edith Foltz
- Jessie Keith-Miller
- Thea Rasche
These brave women brought women into the field of aviation. Each decade women were making inroads into the world of aviation. Soon competing with men and by themselves. Women were not only barnstormers and in races but later they helped protect our country in World War 11. They hadn’t found the height of acceptance that they wanted but their day would come. There many hurdles that they had to climb before women pilots would be fully accepted as male pilots. Today women are pilots and copilots of airliners, flying for the military and many other areas of aviationThere were restriction on the women in the race. At first the women were told they had to have a male mechanic in the plane. But the women wouldn’t hear of it. They were in the derby to prove that they were as good as the male pilots.
Most of the women were not independently wealthy. They knew that they to buy a plane to fly in the race. So they needed sponsors to furnish the plane. In return the planes carried the logo of the manufacture on the outside of the plane. This provided advertising for the company that furnished the plane.
When the women met with race officials at the start of the race the field was crowded with spectators making it difficult for the pilots to take off.
The planes were lined up and took off at one minute intervals. The lighter planes were first followed by the heavier ones. It must have been a sight to see all these planes leaving Clover Field in Cleveland. The women started on the venture of their lives. They couldn’t imagine the difficulties they would encounter.
Male and females were excited about this unusual activity for women. Some men hoped that they would fail and that the race would be a disaster. Of course, they believed that women should be in the home. They didn’t belong flying. The women of the race proved the men wrong. They persevered and traveled to heights that no one ever expected. I hope you find this story as exciting as I do. It’s a credit to these women that we owe our congratulation to show that women can be strong in any field.
The race would last eight days and would make the following stops for food and rest. There was very little rest for the women because they needed to protect their planes from sabotage. The damage might have been from male pilots or even fans who would want a part of the cloth from the wings. There was such chaos from the fans that the women got very little rest. Also they felt it was important to reach the next stop so they could keep their position in the race.
The race was sponsored by the Executive Clubs of each city the women landed. This was good publicity for the city. This race was watched by people all over the country. Even though the races two races were only male pilots. It was the women plights that the county was interested. It was so unusual for women to break into a man’s world. Women were supposed to take care of family and home not be pilots.
The twenty women of the race became good friends. Some went on to fame in other races after the 1929 race. Some went back to their daily lives but they always stayed friends. Thy developed a strong bond that lasted through their lives.
Each women wanted to win the race but there was no major anger to the women who flew faster than others. It’s odd but that bond was so strong that there was no jealousy then it was believed.
The morning August 17th was a very busy crazy day. The women were excited and ready to go. The shot calling the beginning of the race was loud and clear but the runway was so filled with cars and spectators that pilots had to be very careful not to hit anyone or anything. Everyone wanted to see these beautiful and gorgeous women. Even though men didn’t believe that they participate in such a dangerous endeavor.
The race was made more difficult because they could not use navigational instruments. Relying only on road maps to know their location by knowing where rivers and lakes were located. The men thought that their lives were at risk if they flew at night. So there no night flying allowed. The women also had to use planes with engines that fit their abilities as women. They had to be ladylike and at each stop they had to attend banquets and talk about their experiences during the race. All they wanted to was rest and then get back to the field to protect their planes from being damaged. Male pilots wouldn’t want the women pilots to steal their thunder. Men were hoping to prove that women weren’t meant to fly.
Louise Thaden won first place in the heavy category. Her time was incredible…20 hours, 19 minutes, and 4 seconds. Phoebe Omlie won first place in the light category… 2 5 hours, 12 minutes and 4 7.5 seconds.
Come along with me and enjoy this exciting ride!