Marion P. Jayne is recognized on six continents for world records, pioneering achievements, entrepreneurial innovations and encouragement of women to be successful in the field of aviation. She is the only U.S. pilot to have raced her airplane in two competitions around the world. Marion and her daughter, Pat Keefer, received the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Gold Medals for winning the longest race in history--24 days around the world. She is the first and only U.S. pilot to win the FAI Gold Medal as pilot-in-command.
Marion was 39 when she had her first lesson and earned her private, commercial, instrument, instructor and instrument instructor licenses in record time. She was the 12th woman to receive her ATP and did all this within five years of her introductory flight. Marion broke new ground in the 1960s as the corporate pilot for the business she owned with her husband. She was so widely known as an excellent pilot of the Piper Twin Comanche that she was invited to testify before Congress when it was investigating the Twin Comanche's safety record.
A true innovator, Marion created many racing techniques that are now a standard for the sport. She introduced air racing as a marketing event for national sponsors including insurance companies and air carriers. She invented the concept of individual handicaps for competing aircraft and flying starts. Marion was the first person to create an annual cross-country air race open to male and female pilots. Previously, the sport was run by women for women.
Among her many awards and honors include induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and being featured at the Ninety-Nines Museum for Women Pilots with her own cabinet, a distinction that she shares with Amelia Earhart. An 1800-mile cross-country air race was also renamed the Marion Jayne Air Race in her honor. In addition to being a world-class pilot, Marion was an Olympic class swimmer and accomplished equestrian. She faced many challenges in her lifetime and few realized that she had been a critically ill youngster, a child bride, homeless after a fire, young widow and single mother. These challenges made her tenacious, strong and determined to succeed. Marion died in 1996.