women in aviation and space history

Katherine Stinson

Katherine and Marjorie Stinson
National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Katherine Stinson

Early Flight (107)

Katherine Stinson was the fourth woman in the U.S. to obtain a pilot's license. She initially intended to earn money from exhibition flying to finance her music education, however she enjoyed flying so much that she abandoned her piano career and pursued aviation instead. Stinson received her license on July 24, 1912, and one year later she began her exhibition career in Cincinnati, Ohio, flying a Wright B. On July 18, 1915, at Cicero Field in Chicago, Stinson became the first woman to perform a loop. She was also the first woman authorized to carry U.S. mail (for a route in Montana). Stinson and her family moved to San Antonio where she and her sister Marjorie began giving flying instruction at her family's aviation school in Texas, and she made several endurance record flights. She flew a Curtiss JN-4D Jenny for fundraising tours for the Red Cross during World War I. During exhibition flights in Canada, Stinson set a Canadian distance and endurance record. While driving an ambulance in Europe at the end of the war, Stinson contracted influenza and was unable to continue her aviation career after 1920.

(information compiled by D. Cochrane and P. Ramirez)