Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905-1979) was one of the United States foremost female aviators during the late 1920s and 1930s. She received instruction in 1927, soloing and receiving her pilot's license in 1928. In December 1928, Thaden achieved a new altitude record of 20,260 ft. In March 1929, she made a new solo duration record, 22+ hours. A month later she set a new speed record of 156 mph. Thaden was the only woman to hold all three records simultaneously. In August 1929, Thaden won the First Women's National Air Derby, commonly called the Powder Puff Derby. Three years later (August 1932), she, along with Francis Marsalis, set the new refueling duration record of 196 hours. In July 1936, Thaden set the new light plane speed record at 109.58 mph. In the same year, she also won the National Air Race, and was awarded the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race Trophy, becoming the first woman ever to receive this trophy. She set an East-West speed record in 1936, and an inter-city distance speed record and another 109.56 mph speed record in 1937.
Ms. Thaden also distinguished herself in her efforts to promote aviation safety through campaigns to mark airports more effectively. She actively sought ways to promote women in aviation through her work with the U.S. Department of Defense, Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) 1959-1961 and in her work with the Civil Air Patrol, 1949-1979. She also co-founded the Ninety-Nines, and organization of women pilots. She received numerous awards and honors throughout her life including: Harmon Trophy, Famous Aviators Wall -- Mission Inn (Riverside, CA), Arkansas Aviators Hall of Fame, First Flight Society Hall of Fame, Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame, International Aerospace Hall of Fame of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, National Aviation Hall of Fame, Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, and Civil Air Patrol Distinguished Service Award and Meritorious Service Award. She was also an active writer who published an autobiography entitled High, Wide and Frightened and several journal and newspaper articles. In 1928, she married Herbert von Thaden, an aeronautical engineer and designer of several all-metal aircraft. They had two children, William and Patricia, who donated the materials found in the collection.