In her spirit, hundreds of other women have continued to fly, including me, at least for a time. Yet,
female aviators, from student pilots to test pilots, remain limited in numbers and in the
challenging years ahead may remain so. As they go through time, perhaps fewer will think of her,
but all will owe her, if for no other reason than Earhart's ability to envision a future for women and
aviation against odds that were daunting even in her day. Amelia Earhart once roamed the skies of
America and the world, sometimes alone, and often in the face of incomparable odds. We will
never see her likes again. But I am sure that some young girl, somewhere on this planet, will take
up her mission of discovery, will expand our universe through her own solitary journey sometime in
the near future. It will probably be in space, and it will likely be as closely watched as Earhart once
was. I would tell that young pilot over the course of her own education to keep a locket with
Earhart's picture on her person. To wear it often, perhaps always, on her own long and precarious
sojourns. And to know, she'll never, ever, be alone.
Amazing in her own right as pilot, teacher, and restorer of airplanes, Pellegreno made a commemorative
flight in honor of Amelia Earhart's last great effort to fly the world (at the equator). Fifty years after the
aviatrix' disappearance, Pellegreno flew her own Lockheed 10 directly over Howland Island and dropped
a wreath in remembrance of her predecessor. She is still remembered for her role in keeping to the task
of all great aviators---to see the journey through.
NASA astronaut Peggy A. Whitson, Ph.D., holds several records: At 57 years old, she's the world's oldest
spacewoman, and in 2008 she became the first female commander of the International Space Station
Collins had logged a total of 872 hours in space during her four flights. To date, she has amassed an
impressive collection of medals, awards and honorary doctorates and is an inductee in the National
Women's Hall of Fame.
Lieutenant Bowers is better known by her peers in the 74th Fighter Squadron, "The Flying Tigers," by her
call sign, "Banzai." Being a female fighter pilot is still a rare experience these days, and being one that
flies the rugged A-10 Warthog is rarer still: today, only around five women fly the jet, according to
A Look Back, and Currently, at Outstanding Women Fliers---For their efforts, some of
them extreme, to learn about the world above us.
Vicki Van Meter
The youngest pilot (to that date) to fly across the Atlantic in a Cessna 210 --- she was 12 years old
at the time of the flight.
Harriet Quimby was one of the first female pilots. She was the first American woman to earn a pilot's
license, and the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel.
"There is no reason why the aeroplane should not open up a fruitful occupation for women. I see no
reason they cannot realize handsome incomes by carrying passengers between adjacent towns, from
parcel delivery, taking photographs or conducting schools of flying. Any of these things it is now
possible to do."-Harriet Quimby
Ever since Ride went into orbit aboard the Challenger in 1983, the trailblazing astronaut inspired
countless number of young women to take flight and follow their dreams by pursuing careers in
aviation and astronautics.
Bessie Coleman soared across the sky as the first African American, and the first Native American
woman pilot. Known for performing flying tricks, Coleman’s nicknames were; “Brave Bessie,” “Queen
Bess,” and “The Only Race Aviatrix in the World.” Her goal was to encourage women and African
Americans to reach their dreams. Unfortunately, her career ended with a tragic plane crash, but her life
continues to inspire people around the world.
After having completed Imperfect Genius: The Unexpected Life of Amelia Earhart, I've
come to realize Earhart's powerful influence in my own life as a pilot. Fifty years separated
her experience from mine, yet we shared the mysteries of early learning, of pilotage that
comes from hard work and an innate sense of freedom, and of holding true to certain
behaviors that always saw us through. Earhart learned at the beginning of aviation, while I
gained the skill of flight in an era far less dangerous. We both felt the trials of gender and a
serious regard for keeping to the high side of performance. More than anything, however,
we shared the communion of pilots, especially women pilots, who have often embraced risk
over security and valued the experience, however long it could last. This piece of narrative
nonfiction reveals those shared commonalities and more.
Major Kimbrell is the first African-American female fighter pilot in the Air Force. Major Kimbrell has flown
the F-16, T-38, T-37 and T-3 and has logged more than 945 flying hours in the F-16, including 176 combat