Betty Skelton Collection


Collection Item Summary:

Currently, this collection consists of four scrapbooks containing both photographs and newspaper clippings, and four document boxes of newspaper and magazine clippings chronicling her career. There are also a few oversized magazines, either containing articles about Skelton or showing advertisements in which she was featured.

Collection Item Long Description:


  • Stunt flying
  • Women in aeronautics
  • Women air pilots
  • Airplane racing
  • Aeronautics--Competitions
  • Aeronautics
  • Pitts aircraft
  • Automobile racing
  • Pitts S-1 Special

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum Archives


No restrictions on access


Skelton, Betty 1926-


  • Pitts Aviation Enterprises, Inc
  • Project Mercury (U.S.)
  • Pitts S-1 Special, Little Stinker
  • Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATS, "Mercury 13")

Physical description

4.70 cubic feet (5 legal document boxes, 3 flatboxes)


  • 1940
  • 1940-2000


Betty Skelton Frankman (b. 1926) soloed in an airplane at age 12. She has then gone on to hold more combined aviation and automotive records than anyone else in history. From 1948 to 1950 Ms. Skelton won three International Feminine Aerobatic Championships in her open-cockpit biplane, the Pitts Special Little Stinker, which is now part of the National Air and Space Museum Collection. In 1949 and 1951 Skelton also set the world light-plane altitude record. After her retirement from aviation, she worked with Chevrolet on the development of the Corvette. Skelton established records for Chevrolet behind the wheel of the Corvette and appeared at major auto shows, as well as in national ads and TV commercials. Among her automotive firsts, Skelton set the world land speed record for women four times, was the first woman to drive a jet car over 300 miles per hour, the first woman to drive an Indy 500 race car, and the first woman to become a test driver for the auto industry. In 1959, Skelton trained and tested with the original Mercury astronauts, although women were eventually dropped from the program.

Cite as

Betty Skelton Collection, Acc. 2002-0002, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution


  • Scrapbooks
  • Collection descriptions
  • Photographs
  • Clippings
  • Advertisements

Local number


Finding Aids

Online Finding Aid