In 1929, 20 women pilots flew in the first Women’s National Air Derby from Santa Monica, California, to Cleveland, Ohio. During this nine-day event, the women encountered sabotage, mechanical difficulties, navigational challenges and cultural stereotypes. Louise Thaden won the heavy class plane division of the race and Phoebe Omlie won the light class plane division of the race.
One participant, Marvel Crosson, lost her life during the race. Shortly before her death, Marvel said that she would gladly give her life to prove that women could fly. The other 17 women include: Florence Lowe “Pancho” Barnes, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Elder, Claire Fahy, Edith Foltz, Mary Haizlip, Jessie “Chubbie” Miller, Opal Kunz, Ruth Nichols, Blanche Noyes, Gladys O’Donnell, Neva Paris, Margaret Perry, Thea Rasche, Bobbi Trout, Mary Von Mach, and Vera Dawn Walker.