Women have been involved in aviation from the beginnings of both lighter-than air travel and as airplanes, helicopters and space travel were developed.
Women who have been successful in various aviation fields have served as mentors to younger women, helping them along in their careers. Women’s participation in the field of aviation has increased over the years. The formation of the Ninety-Nines in 1929 was the first organization for women pilots. Their members have included almost every female pilot of noting accomplishments.
Women pilots were also called “aviatrices”. Women have been flying powered aircraft since 1908; prior to 1970, however, most were restricted to working privately or in support roles in the aviation industry. Aviation also allowed women to travel alone on unprecedented journeys.
Raymonde de Laroche (22 August 1882 – 18 July 1919) was a French pilot, thought to be the first woman to pilot a plane. She became the world’s first licensed female pilot on 8 March 1910.
She received the 36th aeroplane pilot’s licence issued by the Aeroclub de France, the world’s first organization to issue pilot licences. At the time, pilot licences were only required for pilots operating aircraft for commercial purposes. Raymonde de Laroche influenced the role of women in aviation industry as a female aviator.
In highlighting five women figures in aviation who have been inducted into the ‘’ WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame’’ we mention :
Bessie Coleman broke the racial barrier and became the first African-American to earn an international pilot’s license. Born in Atlanta, Texas in 1892. she was inspired by World War I pilots, that she decided to pursue a pilot’s license.
On June 15, 1921 she earned her pilot’s license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in Paris. She moved back to the United States, where she flew at air shows and taught aviation to African-Americans.
Tragically, she was killed in a flying accident in 1926 when she was thrown from her plane.Her legacy inspired the Bessie Coleman Aero groups in the early 1930s, which held the first all-black air show in America and attracted 15,000 spectators. Almost 90 years later, the event has become an annual aviation celebration.
Jeana Yeager was born in Texas in 1952. she worked as a draftsman and surveyor for a company specializing in geothermal energy. Her fascination with helicopters prompted her to earn her private pilot’s license In 1980, Yeager met fellow pilot Dick Rutan and his brother Burt, an aircraft designer, at an airshow in Chino, The three innovators brainstormed their dream of flying around the world without stopping and without refueling. After six years of design, construction and development, the Voyager team constructed the unique aircraft made almost entirely of lightweight graphite-honeycomb composite materials. Expected to take 18 months, the milestone flight― which took place between December 14 and December 23, 1986―set the record, taking only nine days, three minutes and forty-four seconds.
In recognition of this revolutionary aviation accomplishment, President Reagan presented the Voyager crew with the Presidential Citizenship Medal, which had been awarded only 16 times before in history. In addition, Jeana Yeager earned the Collier Trophy―aviation’s most prestigious award.
Katherine Listed in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum as the nation’s first Asian aviatrix,in 1932 received her pilot certification, the first Asian-American female pilot in the United States to do so.
She entered competitive air races and became a member of the Women’s International Association of Aeronautics launching her aerobatics/air show career. Then, Cheung was invited to become a member of the International Association of Women Pilots – the Ninety-Nines . The Beijing Air Force Aviation Museum calls Cheung “China’s Amelia Earhart.
On August 11, 1911, Harriet Quimby became the first licensed female pilot in the United States. She’s one of the true pioneers for women in aviation, Harriet Quimby broke barriers two years in a row: First, in 1911, when she became the first female to be granted a pilot license by the Aero Club of America. Then, in 1912, she was the first woman to fly across the English Channel when she flew from Dover to Calais in 59 minutes.
Quimby managed to write seven screenplays which were made into silent movies. At that time in history, she was the only woman who wrote about and encouraged other women to enter the field of aviation.
When she was just 37, Quimby died after she was thrown from her aircraft mid-flight.
Bernice “Bee” Haydu was born in 1920, New Jersey. Haydu is among the first women to fly military airplanes for the Army Air Force. Her dedication to WASP placed her front and center as president of the organization from 1975-1978.
Haydu was inducted into the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame in 2000, the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame in 2012, received the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2014, and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Vaughn College in 2015.
Airlines have been stepping up their efforts to recruit more female pilots to meet the increasing demand for travel.
Indian airlines employ the highest proportion of female pilots at 12.4%. That’s according to the latest statistics from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISWAP).
Globally, just 5.18% of commercial pilots are women, according to the Air Line Pilots Association International trade union.
While still few, the number of female airline CEO has risen in recent years. In 2022, 8% of the CEOs for the world’s top 100 airlines are women.
The biggest barrier that discourages women from entering and staying in aviation careers is culture – and it is the hardest to change. Women don’t feel like they belong. Changing culture requires consistent leadership commitment over time in thousands of large and small actions across government and industry.
Since the very first Women in Aviation International Girls in Aviation Day in 2015, the annual WAI ( Women in Aviation international Organisation ) event has grown every year since its first gathering of 32 events and 3,200 participants.
In keeping with the UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future ICAO, in collaboration with IATA and ACI, showcased the extraordinary efforts displayed by women in the aviation sector Jointly with men, women went above and beyond to keep the sector alive so that planes could continue to fly and function safely, securely, efficiently, and environmentally responsibly.
WAI members seek to inspire and stand for encouragement, continued education, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re a lover of aviation and aerospace industry, and enjoy sharing your passion with others, you should join WAI.
WAI membership is open to women and men from all segments of the aviation industry and in all stages of their career.
Women in Aviation – Middle East is committed to its mission and goals in helping women from all over the Middle East take on a more engaging role in the aviation industry.
Women in Aviation – Middle East insist on the importance women currently play in aviation industry and the opportunities available for the young generation of women to part take in so they can bring value to themselves and their communities.
If you are an ambitious person looking to better yourself and your community – join Women in Aviation – Middle East which offer the following :