Just look into the skies to witness the achievements of women! Throughout history, many women were able to enter the cockpit and became pilots despite countless challenges. Today, as female pilots fly in the skies, they are inspired by legends.
Raymonde de Laroche is one of the most memorable female pilots in history. Answering the question of who is the first female aviator with her documented flight in 1910, Laroche is accepted as the world’s first female pilot.
Born in Paris as a daughter of a plumber, Laroche was greatly fond of sports during her childhood. Always on the move, she had various interests during her life. In her youth she acted under the name of Raymonde de Laroche. She also used this name in her later career.
Her interest in motor vehicles led her to airplanes after watching an airshow. She learned how to fly from a friend of hers who was a successful aviator. Finally reaching the skies as a licensed pilot, Laroche broke down the prejudices such as women could not fly planes demonstrating that being a pilot had no gender.
Known as “Sister Gökmen” before the Law on Family Names, Bedriye Tahir Gökmen had a great passion for flying. In 1932, she enrolled to ‘Vecihi Sivil Tayyare Mektebi’, the first civilian aviation school in Turkey established by the famous aviator, Vecihi Hürkuş.
Gökmen, ignoring being regarded strange as the sole woman among 13 students, attended the aviation classes with great enthusiasm. As she was working as a civil servant, she attended the aviation school early in the morning and all weekends. Despite the fact that her passion never hindered her work, she got some negative reactions in the institution she was employed, however she did not quit. In 1933, she began to fly as Turkey’s first female pilot. When the institution where she worked tried to fine her, it was cancelled due to Turkish Aviation Association’s intervention.
In order to continue her aviation career she applied for a test. As the only airplane of the school was out of service when the committee came for the test, this test could not be carried out. Despite Vecihi’s persistent efforts, the test was not conducted again, and Gökmen could not continue her aviation career. Afterwards, she was fired from her work, and no further information is available regarding her life later. In spite of the various challenges she faced, nothing stood in Bedriye Tahir Gökmen’ way to engrave her name in history as Turkey’s first female aviator.
Probably the most famous female aviator of all time, Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Born in Kansas, Earhart played basketball during her childhood then she learnt vehicle maintenance. With her fields of interest and lifestyle, even in her youth she showed that she had no regard for gender discrimination.
During World War I, Earhart worked as a nurse and extensively watched how pilots trained. While as a student at Columbia University, she had the chance to fly for the first time and began her aviation training in 1921. During her career, she set many records and wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences. With her achievements both as a pilot and writer, she became an inspiration for all women around the world.
During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe, she disappeared with her colleague Fred Noonan in 1937 never to be seen again. Last seen departing from Lae with Howland Island as the intended destination, an extensive search and rescue operation was undertaken for 2 weeks. The mystery of her disappearance continues to this day. Amelia Earhart represents women’s achievements in the history of aviation.