2009 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 2009 Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame.
Jacqueline Cochran is one of the most outstanding women in 20th century aviation. During World War II, she recruited women to fly for the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), and then returned to the United States to lead the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and later became the director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She became the first woman to break the sound barrier, in an F-86 Sabre jet aircraft. Her legacy continues today through the thousands of women pilots she inspired.
Patricia Malone began her aviation career in 1944 when she enlisted in the US Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and was assigned to train aircraft carrier based pilots on instrument flight procedures. Later, she was employed as a simulator instructor by the US Air Force, Trans World Airlines, and Northeast Airlines. In 1972, with the merger of Northeast with Delta Air Lines, Patricia returned to Atlanta and was assigned to the Pilot Ground Training Department and held many positions with Delta and became known as "Mother" Malone for her 50-year career in aviation.
Ruth Nichols holds more than 35 women's aviation records. In 1924 she was the first woman licensed to fly a hydroplane, and in 1927 she was one of the first two women licensed to fly transport planes. She set a transcontinental speed record in 1930, beating Charles Lindbergh's record set earlier that year. She was the only woman to hold simultaneously the women's world speed, altitude, and distance records for heavy landplanes. At the commencement of World War II, Ruth saw the need for "mercy flying" and founded Relief Wings, a humanitarian service to provide relief flights for both natural disasters and wartime support.
Dawn Seymour was the first woman accepted into the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) at Cornell University. Chosen for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, she was assigned to the Flexible Gunnery School, Fort Myers, Florida, where she flew gunnery training missions in the B-17F/G, and towed targets as a copilot in the AT-23 (a stripped B-26). In 1982, Dawn became the first president of the WASP of WWII, and she wrote the booklet "In Memoriam: Thirty-eight American Women Pilots" to honor the 38 WASP who perished on active duty. She continues to inspire young people through speaking engagements and presentations.
Anna Timofeyeva-Yegorova is one of the most famous Soviet women to fly in a male combat regiment during World War II. She began the war as a pilot in the unarmed Polikarpov-2 (Po-2). She later flew the Ilyushin-2 (Il-2) "Shturmovik" in more than 270 combat missions and was shot down in August 1944, badly injured and imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Liberated by Soviet tank troops in January 1945, she was detained and interrogated by the Soviet secret police which treated former prisoners of war as traitors. The stigma of having been a POW haunted Anna for 20 more years, until she was considered "rehabilitated" in 1965 and was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest honor a Soviet citizen could win.