Today, like many of you, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day. Women around the world have meaningfully contributed to the aerospace industry, from groundbreaking research to daring flights. Here are just a few of those inspiring women.
Jean Batten | New Zealand
Jean Batten was an instant sensation in her home country of New Zealand as well as Australia and England when she became the first woman to make a roundtrip flight from England to Australia in 1934/35. Batten followed this success with more record-breaking flights, including her solo flight across the South Atlantic, a first for a woman.
Helene Dutrieu | Belgium
Helene Dutrieu was known as the “girl hawk” of aviation because she was the most daring and accomplished female pilot of her time. She was the first Belgian woman to receive a pilot’s license on November 25, 1910. In 1911, Dutrieu outflew 14 male competitors to win the King’s Cup in Florence, Italy.
Valentina Tereshkova | Russia
Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space in June 1963. Tereshkova’s entry into the aerospace field began when she joined a club for parachutists, and, in September 1961, she wrote a letter to the Soviet Space Center volunteering for the cosmonaut team. Unknown to her, Soviet space officials were considering women parachutists for the program.
Raymonde de Laroche | France
Raymonde de Laroche was the first women to earn a pilot’s license on March 8, 1910. She was the only woman to participate in the 1910 Reims Air Meet. In the summer of 1919, de Laroche, who was also a talented engineer, reported to the airfield at Le Crotoy to copilot a new aircraft in hopes of becoming the first female test pilot. Unfortunately, the aircraft went into a dive on its landing approach and both de Laroche and the pilot were killed.
Patricia Cowings | America
Patricia Cowings, a research psychologist in the Biomedical Division of NASA’s Ames Research Center, investigated the psycho-physiological and biological problems experienced by astronauts in space, better known as space sickness. In the early 1980s, Cowings designed a program of 12 half-hour sessions to teach subjects to regulate many autonomic functions, such as heart rate, through biofeedback.