2008 WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame Inductees
The Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame was established in 1992 to honor women who have made significant contributions as record setters, pioneers, or innovators. Special consideration is given to individuals or groups who have helped other women be successful in aviation or opened doors of opportunity for other women. Each year, the organization solicits nominations from throughout the aviation industry for the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame. We salute these distinguished members of the 2008 Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame.
Nancy Harkness Love
Nancy Harkness earned her Private Pilot Certificate in 1930 at age 16. By age 19 she had earned her Limited Commercial and Transport licenses. Harkness was one of three women pilots chosen to work for the Airmarking Program in 1935. She married Bob Love in 1936. On September 10, 1942, she was named Director of the Army's civilian Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). When Jackie Cochran was named director of all women pilots flying for the Army and changed the name to Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in August 1943, Love continued to exercise staff supervision over the WASP ferrying squadrons until deactivation on December 10, 1944. She led a total of 303 women ferry pilots during World War II.
Nicole Malachowski's interest in aviation began at a central California air show in 1979, when she was only five years old. She joined the Civil Air Patrol and took her first flying lesson at age 12. Nicole attended the US Air Force Academy, from which she was commissioned in 1996. In late 1997 she graduated at the top of her Air Force pilot training class, earning her wings and an F-15E training slot. She served in three operational F-15E squadrons, performing duties as an Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander. She was Flight Lead responsible for providing air cover over Baghdad during the historic Iraqi elections held on January 31, 2005, and has logged 188 flight hours in combat. Malachowski was the first woman to be selected and serve as a pilot on a U.S. military flight demonstration team--the Air Force Thunderbirds.
Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock
Inspired in 1962 to "add a bit of fun" to her then 38-year life, Jerrie Mock took her husband's jocular remark, "Why don't you fly around the world?" and ran with it. A quarter century had elapsed since Amelia Earhart's fatal attempt, but a woman had not yet soloed around the world. Mock modified her 1953 Cessna 180, The Spirit of Columbus with a new engine and avionics. She took off on March 19, 1964, and landed safely in Columbus on April 19, 1964 (29 days, 11 hours, and 59 minutes later). She was the first woman to fly from the United States to Africa via the North Atlantic, the first to fly the Pacific in a single-engine aircraft, and the first to fly both major oceans solo. Mock continued to compete, achieving 21 records for speed and distance. She received the FAA's Gold Medal for Exceptional Service from President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Margaret Ringenberg got her first taste of flying at age 7 during a flight with a barnstormer. She earned her pilot's license in 1940, and served the US Army during World War II in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program until they were disbanded in December 1944. She flew the PT-19, BT-13, AT-6, and UC-78, got her instrument rating in a DC-3, and co-piloted the B-24 and C-54. After the war she became a flight instructor and avid air racer. She completed the "Round-the-World" Air Race in 1994 at age 72. In June 2007, at age 86, she flew her 50th air derby. Ringenberg has inspired many young girls to follow their dreams by sharing her love of aviation during motivational speeches and through her autobiography, "Girls Can't Be Pilots." Tom Brokaw devoted an entire chapter in his book, "The Greatest Generation," to her.
The Women's Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary
The Women's Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was established on January 1, 1940, to help ferry aircraft throughout Britain during World War II. Despite the initial negative reaction, and the fact that they were restricted to flying only single-engine, open-cockpit training aircraft such as the Tiger Moth, the first eight women were so successful that more women joined the section. As more male pilots were needed for combat, the women began to ferry twin-engine aircraft, then fighter aircraft such as Spitfires and Hurricanes, twin-engine bombers and finally four-engine bombers such as the Halifax and Stirling. Twenty six American women signed up for the ATA, and other women pilots came from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Poland, Holland, Chile, and South Africa. Of 14 women who lost their lives flying for the ATA, 12 were British (Amy Johnson being the most famous). By the end of the war, 166 women had flown for the ATA and 11 had received awards for their bravery.