Humanities › History & Culture A Timeline of Women in Aviation Share Flipboard Email Print Amelia Earhart and George Palmer Putnam, 1932. Getty Images / New York Times Co. History & Culture Women's History History Of Feminism Important Figures Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated April 22, 2019 1784 - Elisabeth Thible becomes the first woman to fly -- in a hot air balloon 1798 - Jeanne Labrosse is the first woman to solo in a balloon 1809 - Marie Madeleine Sophie Blanchard becomes the first woman to lose her life while flying - she was watching fireworks in her hydrogen balloon 1851 - "Mademoiselle Delon" ascends in a balloon in Philadelphia 1880 - July 4 - Mary Myers is the first American woman to solo in a balloon 1903 - Aida de Acosta is the first woman to solo in a dirigible (a motorized aircraft) 1906 - E. Lillian Todd is the first woman to design and build an airplane, though it never flew 1908 - Madame Therese Peltier is the first woman to fly an airplane solo 1908 - Edith Berg is the first woman airplane passenger (she was a European business manager for the Wright Brothers) 1910 - Baroness Raymonde de la Roche obtains a license from the Aero Club of France, the first woman in the world to earn a pilot's license 1910 - September 2 - Blanche Stuart Scott, without permission or knowledge of Glenn Curtiss, the airplane's owner and builder, removes a small wood wedge and is able to get the airplane airborne -- without any flying lessons -- thus becoming the first American woman to pilot an airplane 1910 - October 13 - Bessica Raiche's flight qualifies her, for some, as the first woman pilot in America because some discount the flight of Scott as accidental and therefore deny her this credit 1911 - August 11 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first American woman licensed pilot, with flight license number 37 from the Aero Club of America 1911 - September 4 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly at night 1912 - April 16 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to pilot her own aircraft across the English Channel 1913 - Alys McKey Bryant is the first woman pilot in Canada 1916 - Ruth Law sets two American records flying from Chicago to New York 1918 - The US postmaster general approves the appointment of Marjorie Stinson as the first female airmail pilot 1919 - Harriette Harmon becomes the first female ever to fly from Washington D.C. to New York City as a passenger. 1919 - Baroness Raymonde de la Roche, who in 1910 was the first woman to earn a pilot's license, set an altitude record for women of 4,785 meters or 15,700 feet 1919 - Ruth Law becomes the first person to fly air mail in the Philippines 1921 - Adrienne Bolland is the first woman to fly over the Andes 1921 - Bessie Coleman becomes the first African American, male or female, to earn a pilot's license 1922 - Lillian Gatlin is the first woman to fly across America as a passenger 1928 - June 17 - Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly across the Atlantic -- Lou Gordon and Wilmer Stultz did most of the flying 1929 - August - first Women's Air Derby is held, and Louise Thaden wins, Gladys O'Donnell takes second place and Amelia Earhart takes third 1929 - Florence Lowe Barnes - Pancho Barnes - becomes the first woman stunt pilot in motion pictures (in "Hell's Angels") 1929 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first president of the Ninety-Nines, an organization of women pilots 1930 - May 5-24 - Amy Johnson becomes the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia 1930 - Anne Morrow Lindbergh becomes the first woman to earn a glider pilot license 1931 - Ruth Nichols fails in her attempt to fly solo across the Atlantic, but she breaks the world distance record flying from California to Kentucky 1931 - Katherine Cheung becomes the first woman of Chinese ancestry to earn a pilot's license 1932 - May 20-21 - Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic 1932 - Ruthy Tu becomes the first woman pilot in the Chinese Army 1934 - Helen Richey becomes the first woman pilot hired by a regularly scheduled airline, Central Airlines 1934 - Jean Batten is the first woman to fly round trip England to Australia 1935 - January 11-23 - Amelia Earhart is the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the American mainland 1936 - Beryl Markham becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic east to west 1936 - Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes beat male pilots also entered in the Bendix Trophy Race, the first victory of women over men in a race which both men and women could enter 1937 - July 2 - Amelia Earhart lost over Pacific 1937 - Hanna Reitsch was the first woman to cross the Alps in a glider 1938 - Hanna Reitsch becomes the first woman to fly a helicopter and the first woman to be licensed as a helicopter pilot 1939 - Willa Brown, first African American commercial pilot and first African American woman officer in the Civil Air Patrol, helps form the National Airmen's Association of America to help open up the U.S. Armed Forces to African American men 1939 - January 5 - Amelia Earhart declared legally dead 1939 - September 15 - Jacqueline Cochran sets an international speed record; the same year, she is the first woman to make a blind landing 1941 - July 1 - Jacqueline Cochrane is the first woman to ferry a bomber across the Atlantic 1941 - Marina Raskova appointed by Soviet Union high command to organize regiments of women pilots, one of which is later called the Night Witches 1942 - Nancy Harkness Love and Jackie Cochran organize women flying units and training detachments 1943 - Women make up more than 30% of the workforce in the aviation industry 1943 - Love's and Cochran's units are merged into the Women Airforce Service Pilots and Jackie Cochran becomes the Director of Women Pilots -- those in WASP flew more than 60 million miles before the program ended in December 1944, with only 38 lives lost of 1830 volunteers and 1074 graduates -- these pilots were seen as civilians and were only recognized as military personnel in 1977 1944 - German pilot Hanna Reitsch was the first woman to pilot a jet aircraft 1944 - WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) disbanded; the women were given no benefits for their service 1945 - Melitta Schiller is awarded the Iron Cross and Military Flight Badge in Germany 1945 - Valérie André of the French Army in Indochina, a neurosurgeon, was the first woman to fly a helicopter in combat 1949 - Richarda Morrow-Tait landed in Croydon, England, after her round-the-world flight, with navigator Michael Townsend, the first such flight for a woman -- it took one year and one day with a 7 week stop in India to replace the plane's engine and 8 months in Alaska to raise funds to replace her plane 1953 - Jacqueline (Jackie) Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier 1964 - March 19 - Geraldine (Jerrie) Mock of Columbus, Ohio, is the first woman to pilot a plane solo around the world ("The Spirit of Columbus," a single-engine plane) 1973 - January 29 - Emily Howell Warner is the first woman working as a pilot for a commercial airline (Frontier Airlines) 1973 - U.S. Navy announces pilot training for women 1974 - Mary Barr becomes the first woman pilot with the Forest Service 1974 - June 4 - Sally Murphy is the first woman to qualify as an aviator with the U.S. Army 1977 - November - Congress passes a bill recognizing WASP pilots of World War II as military personnel, and President Jimmy Carter signs the bill into law 1978 - International Society of Women Airline pilots formed 1980 - Lynn Rippelmeyer becomes the first woman to pilot a Boeing 747 1984 - on July 18, Beverly Burns becomes the first woman to captain a 747 cross country, and Lynn Rippelmeyer becomes the first woman to captain a 747 across the Atlantic -- sharing the honor, thereby, of being the first female 747 captains 1987 - Kamin Bell became the first African American woman Navy helicopter pilot (February 13) 1994 - Vicki Van Meter is the youngest pilot (to that date) to fly across the Atlantic in a Cessna 210 - she is 12 years old at the time of the flight 1994 - April 21 - Jackie Parker becomes the first woman to qualify to fly an F-16 combat plane 2001 - Polly Vacher becomes the first woman to fly around the world in a small plane - she flies from England to England on a route that includes Australia 2012 - Women who flew as part of WASP in World War II (Women Airforce Service Pilots) are given the Congressional Gold Medal in the United States, with over 250 women attending 2012 - Liu Yang becomes the first woman launched by China into space. 2016 - Wang Zheng (Julie Wang) is the first person from China to fly a single-engine plane around the world This timeline © Jone Johnson Lewis.