Margaret Ray Ringenberg

  • Wall of Honor Location:

    Foil: 27 Panel: 2 Column: 1 Line: 26

  • Wall of Honor Level:

    Air and Space Sponsor

Margaret Ringenberg took her first airplane ride at the age of seven from a farmer's field in rural Indiana. She earned her private pilot's license in 1942 and was called to be a WASP in 1943. She became a flight instructor in 1945 and has flown as a commercial pilot ever since. She has been racing since 1957 in various races including the Powder Puff Derby, the Classic Air Race, the Grand Prix, the Great Southern, the Denver Mile High, the Illi-nines Air Race, the Kentucky Air Derby, the Indiana F.A.I.R., the Michigan SMALL Race and others. She has won numerous times and has over 150 trophies. From the time she soloed in 1941 until she completed the Round-the-World Air Race in 1994 at the age of 72, she had logged over 40,000 hours. In March of 2001 Margaret flew with the Skytrekker's team flying the London to Sydney Air Race. In June of 2003 at the age of 82 she flew the Air Race Classic crossing the finishing line at Kitty Hawk and placing second.
In addition to flying she travels across the country speaking to various audiences about her experiences. She has addressed the cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the astronauts at the NASA Houston Space Center. Here she had the privilege of flying the space shuttle simulator. A chapter was devoted to her in Tom Brokaw's bestseller, The Greatest Generation, and she has written a book of her own, Girls Can't Be Pilots.
She has received numerous awards including the NAA Elder Statesman in Aviation Award in a presentation ceremony in Washington, D.C., the Sagamore of the Wabash, the top honor to an Indiana citizen, and has been honored in Woman Pilot Magazine. She has been featured in the Indiana's Trailblazing Women Calendar and on NBC's Today Show in a segment called Ladies in Their Eighties.
She was married to banker, Morris Ringenberg. At his death in 2003 they had been married for over 56 years. They have two children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. All five of her grandchildren have flown with her in races, and all have been in the winner's circle. Margaret has been active in Girl Scouting, church activities, museum work, and since 1945, has been a member of the 99s, and organization of women pilots.


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