Ruth Nichols

Ruth Nichols:

1st. airplane radio broadcast

Ruth Nichols was a pilot during the Golden Age of Aviation. She was named the”Flying Debutante” because of her wealthy upbringing. Her family disapproved of her interest in flying but she went ahead to earn a name for herself in aviation.                                                      Accomplishments:

  • Her first flight was in 1919 and through her career she flew more than 140 different planes. Ruth flew gliders, auto-gyros, transports, seaplanes and even biplanes. 
  • She was the first women to earn three simultaneous international records for distance, speed and altitude. 
  •  Flew in the First All Women Air Derby.
  • One of the first women to compete in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race in 1931. 
  • Helped form the 99’s to support women in the field of Aviation
  • Co-founded the Aviation Country Club. She flew all over the country to publicize this unique place. The clubs were supposed to be in many different states but The Depression caused the demise of these clubs.
  • Developed Relief Wings… a humanitarian organization that used private planes to help with disaster and emergency work
  • Became a Lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol
  • Founded Sportsman Pilot magazine 
  • Round the world plane tour for UNICEF
  • First woman to land in all 48 contiguous states  

Ruth deserves to be more well known and that is my intention for all the women pilots that I profile. She never received the success of Amelia due to many crashes. She wanted to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic but she never fulfilled that wish. She believed that her failures were due to mechanical problems not her ability to control the plane. I hope that after you read this story you will be able to say There’s More Than Amelia. 

 Read more about Ruth Nichols unique life in her autobiography, Wings for Life: The Story of the First Lady of the Air.” The forward was written by Richard E. Byrd the American aviator and polar explorer. The book was published in in 1957 by J.B. Lippincott and is available on Amazon.


Biography of Pearl Carter Scott

“Never Give Up!” by Paul Lambert is a wonderful biography about a woman who never stopped her journey through life. Pearl Carter Scott became the youngest pilot in America. The book traces the story of her parents, siblings, and her life as pilot. She started to fly at twelve years old because her father  allowed her to follow her passion and later to be a leader of her Chickasaw Nation.

As aviation historian I found this book well written and the authentic pictures of her family enhanced the story. Each page was full of information about a woman I never knew. I became aware of Pearl from the movie “Pear” that was a fine depiction of Pearl as a strong and unique young girl. The movie tells the story of Pearls early years and how she became a pilot. Her story inspired me to keep writing no matter how long and hard it is for me. Read the book and see the movie and you will be inspired too. I only wish I had contacted her before she died in 2005. 

I will continue to write about unknown women pilots because it is important to bring awareness of these women to the general public and out of the shadows. Please read my next post about women aviators and the culture of the aviation community.

I also will “never give up” in my quest to learn more about my                                            PASSION…AVIATION. 

Look at the world of aviation…past, present and future. Read my ABOUT PAGE and my post MORE ABOUT ME then you will find out why I call myself a PLANE NUT.

                          Wishing You Blue Skies and Calm Winds


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Mary Feik Aviation Engineer


   Mary Feik was an aviation wonder that most people don’t know. I want to bring her out of the shadows as I have done with so many women pilots. I learned about Mary when I was at the Historic Flight Museum. Our docent was fabulous. He is the one who mentioned Mary Feik. I had never heard of Mary before so I thought I’d write about her.

 She became an aviation engineer, a mechanic, pilot, and plane restorer. WOW! A women in a man’s world. I call my blog They Fly In A Man’s World. Mary really fits that title. How did she become this accomplished women.

 Mary was born in 1924 before Lindbergh’s historic flight. By the time she was seven she saw a barnstormer fly in the skies of Cleveland, Ohio where she was born. The pilot flew a Jenny, the most common plane of World War 1. After the war pilots and planes were unused so they soon were used by barnstormers. This pilot made his living by flying from town to town and gave flight to local residents. Usually they charged $5.00 for this ride. This was the only way the pilots could earn some money. After this flight Mary couldn’t take her eyes off the sky. She was only seven at this time but Mary knew that she wanted to be a pilot. She found her passion.

Mary Feik’s Acheivements:

  • Age 11 learned welding

  • Took apart a car engine at age 13

  • Teacher of aircraft maintenance

  • More than 6,000 hours of flight

  • Pilot of P-51, P-47, P-63 planes

  • Test engineer 

  • Restoration specialist at the Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility in the National Air and Space Museum

  • Her important restorations: 1910 Wiseman-Cooke plane, WW1 Spad X111 fighter, and a 1930 Northrop “Alpha” mail plane. She also restored Betty Skelton’s “Little Stinker” plane. 

  • Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol

  • Member of the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame

  • Maintenance teacher for the US Army Air Corps

  • First woman engineer for the USAF Air Technical Service Command

  • First women to receive to receive the FAA Taylor Master Mechanic Award

  • Award of the Katherine Wright Trophy

   Readers will wonder why I mentioned so many organizations. I listed these for aviation experts but also for myself. I looked up every plane, place and honor. Why? I told you that “I want to know everything about everything,” I enjoy learning maybe not about everything. That’s impossible.

   I love aviation but I also love to read about strong women… like me! I have said this before. I hope that you read my “About Page” and my post “More About Me.” Then you will learn about my interests and why I think I am a strong woman. I am not accomplished like Mary Feik and so many others but I hope you still like my stories about women in aviation. 

   On June 10, 2016 Mary Feik died at her home in Annapolis, Maryland. On that day America lost an aviation legend.

 What a lady! I am glad to bring the story of Mary Feik out of the shadows. 




Queen Bess..Bessie Coleman

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Bessie Coleman was a unique woman. She was born in 1902 in a small town in Texas. She started out as a poor Black woman who picked cotton so her family could survive. It was not long till she became the first black woman pilot. Bessie Coleman, “Queen Bess,” was the first black woman pilot.There were many hurdles that she had to overcome before she was able to get her license. In the 1920’s there were no pilots that would train a black person. Bessie was not only black but a woman. Men thought that women sure didn’t belong in a plane. There were many hurdles that she had to overcome before she was able to get her license. In the 1920’s there were no pilots that would train a black person…especially a woman. 

Bessie was fortunate to meet Robert Abbott, the founder of the Chicago Defender newspaper. Bessie told him that she wanted to be a pilot but no one would teach her how to fly. Mr. Abbott suggested she go to France where race didn’t matter like it did in the U.S. Bessie even learned that there was an American black man named Eugene Bullard that learned to fly in France. There was even a French woman named Raymonde de Laroche that also was a pilot. Bessie was so excited. Maybe, she could learn to fly too.

She went to France received her licence. When she returned to America , she was hailed as a hero. Imagine, poor Bessie became the first black woman pilot.  Bessie wanted to give back to other women to encourage them to reach for the stars. She decided to start a school where she could train women to fly.


Public library in Chicago named after Bessie

Memorial plaque placed at Chicago Cultural Center

Flowers dropped during flyovers at her grave site in Lincoln Cemetery near Chicago 

Bessie Coleman Drive near O’hare Airport

Bessie scholarship awards to high school students that wanted to learn to fly

Stamp issued in her honor in 1995

2006 inducted in the Aviation Hall of Fame

  Bessie never realized her dream to open flying school but she did receive many honors. In 1926 she was killed in a plane crash in Florida. Her memorial service was attended by 5,000 people. All over the world people were devastated by the news that their “Queen Bess” had died.

  In 1930 the Bessie Coleman Aero Club was formed to honor her. In the coming years Bessie inspired many black women to reach for the stars.

  Today there are few women pilots and fewer black women that are pilots but those numbers are increasing. This is due to Bessie Coleman blazing the path for future pilots.The organization. Women in Aviation International ( is very supportive of women in every area of aviation. I urge women to join this fine group of strong women. Another place to support is the International Women’s Air and Space Museum in Cleveland.( I had the pleasure of visiting this museum. Tour the museum and look at the past and present of Women in Aviation.

  I want to encourage women fly like an eagle and realize your dreams. Don’t let anything stop you.








Edith Foltz

Edith Foltz was a pilot in the Powder Puff Derby who placed second in the race. She also was a charter member of the 99’s. Her aviation activities began before the Powder Puff derby and the 99’s. She and many other early pilots were barnstormers. She learned to fly from her husband who was a was a WWI when he came back from France after the war. He escorted a flying a flying school and she learned quickly and had 230 hours of flight. She became the second women to achieve her transport license. 

Achievements and awards:

  • Barnstormer
  • Placed second light plane category in Power Puff Derby
  • Member of Air Transport Auxiliary
  • Held Commercial license
  • Flight instructor’s rating
  • Logged over 4,000 hours of flight time
  • Taught instrument flying to Naval Cadets
  • Received Kings Medal…Britain’s highest award to foreigners
  • Ferried bombers from U.S. to England
  •  Designed the “Foltz-Up” flying suit…could be worn for flying or other activities
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            The clever Foltz up 



Vera Dawn Walker

    Vera was so small she couldn’t touch the rudder pedals she needed to prop herself up so that she could reach them. She was called the “Tiny Texan.” She was  4’11” and weighed all of 97 pounds! 

 Vera always wanted to fly like the birds so it was east to see why she was to enamored by flight. A pilot introduced her to flying and she immediately wanted to learn to fly. In order to take lessons she sold real estate. Reporters asked her why she wanted to fly she replied “because I want to.”

After she learned to fly she became a wing walker and appeared in many movies.

In 1929 she received her department Department of Commerce license. She began doing wing walking and also was an extra in movies. Again in 1929 Vera was a contestant in the Powder Puff Derby where she came in 10th. 

After flying career ended she returned to sell real estate. 

Vera didn’t have as much experience as many of the other pilots in the race but she was a spunky women who knew what she really wanted to do. Flying was her passion.

Vera Dawn Walker wearing her lovely head band

Opal Kunz


Opal Kunz- 1894-1967

Opal Kunz was a socialite who became a great pilot. She, like other pioneer pilots, was a strong advocate for the rights of women to enter the field of aviation. She felt that women were equal to male pilots and should be allowed to follow their dreams.

Achievements and Records:

  • 1930 Became the first woman to race with men in open competition
  • Charter member of the Ninety-Nines
  • Participated in the first Women’s Air Derby and came in 8th in the heavy category
  • Organized the Betsy Ross Air Corps. This group supported the Army Air Corp. (this became (the Air Force) They served in times of an emergency taught women to fly so that they would have a reserve number of women pilots. This group grew to 100 pilots but was short-lived. It only lasted from 1931 to 1933.
  • In 1942 taught students how to fly at Arkansas State College
  • Taught Navy cadets for the Civilian Pilot Training Program
  • Inspector for Aerojet Corporation

Opal lived a life in aviation. Why wasn’t she known for her achievements? So many women in many different fields never became well-known. What more should I say. These women had one common bond…they wanted to follow their passion. They sure did and they succeeded.