women in aviation and space history

Betty Browning

Betty Browning and Amelia Earhart
National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Betty Browning

Golden Age of Flight (105)

Air race enthusiast Betty Browning won the 1936 Amelia Earhart Trophy Race at the National Air Races in Los Angeles. Flying a Cessna C-34, Browning led a group of eight women in the 40-kilometer (25-mile) race at an average speed of 251 kph (156.4 mph). She came in second in the same race in 1937. Browning found pylon racing to be of great sport, but she did not depend on aviation as a source of income. Instead she worked as a secretary at the Sheffield Steel Corporation in Kansas City, and flew on a Trans-World Airline flight to Los Angeles to participate in the fifty-minute race. She also participated in the Miami Air Maneuvers flying from Miami to Havana. She was skeptical about women's commercial flying opportunities beyond the few superstars at the top. Adopting a philosophical attitude, Browning hoped to make enough money by racing just to break even on her flying expenses.

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