Trailblazing aviator Elinor Smith died in Palo Alto, California, at the age of 98. She was born Elinor Regina Patricia Ward in 1911 in New York City. (She became Elinor Smith after her father, whose wide-ranging show business pursuits included singing and comedy, changed his name to Tom Smith.) Elinor Smith grew up in the... Continue Reading →

The Montana Standard newspaper featured a tribute to a legendary lighthouse keeper who had died the previous month on faraway Staten Island in New York. “Death recently closed the life of Mrs. Kate Walker, keeper from 1886 to 1919 of the Robbins Reef lighthouse in upper New York harbor,” stated the article. “A little woman,... Continue Reading →

Katie Spotz completed a solo rowing crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, arriving at Guyana on South America’s northern mainland more than four months after departing from Senegal on the West African coast. In completing this ambitious journey of 2,817 nautical miles (5,217.1 kilometers), 22-year-old Spotz became the youngest person to row across an ocean solo.... Continue Reading →

On her 100th birthday, Hepsa Cottle lived it up by traveling in an automobile in her adopted hometown of New York City. “Aged Woman Enjoys Novel Celebration,” proclaimed a headline in the San Francisco Call. In its own account of Mrs. Cottle’s birthday ride, Automotive Industries magazine characterized her in a caption as “the Oldest... Continue Reading →

Mary Feik, whose career encompassed a wide range of aviation achievements, was born in Cleveland. Her interest in airborne transportation first took shape when she was only seven. A stunt pilot flying a Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” biplane visited the Cleveland area at that time and took Feik for a ride in the aircraft. The experience... Continue Reading →

Image: Portraits of three women engineers: Margaret Rowbotham, Beatrice Shilling, and Margaret Partridge Beatrice “Tilly” Shilling, who left her mark as an aeronautical engineer as well as a motorbike and car racer, was born in Waterlooville, England. At age 14, she bought her first motorbike. By that time, she had also developed a strong interest... Continue Reading →

A memo to U.S. Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels from Rear Admiral L.C. Palmer, chief of the Bureau of Navigation  (the office within the Navy Department that handled personnel matters), helped set into motion the unprecedented enlistment of women to perform various responsibilities for that military branch – including those that involved transportation. With the ever-increasing... Continue Reading →

Geraldyn “Jerrie” M. Cobb, a well-established female trailblazer of the skies, was born in Norman, Oklahoma. Her father was a pilot and, with his encouragement, she developed a strong interest in aviation at an early age. By the time she was 12, Cobb was learning how to fly in her father’s 1936 Waco Aircraft Company... Continue Reading →

Photo of Ellen Paneok courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program. Aviation pioneer Ellen Evak Paneok died in Anchorage, Alaska, at the age of 48. She had been born in 1959.  (Accounts vary on whether her birthplace was in Alaska or Virginia.) Her parents were Bernice Evak Burgandine, who was of Inupiat... Continue Reading →

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