On this Day:
On May 18, 1953 American Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier.
Jacqueline Cochran, whose second married name was Jacqueline Cochran Odlum, was also called Jackie Cochran. Her original name was Bessie Lee Pittman. She was born May 11, 1906, in Muscogee, Florida, U.S. and she died August 9, 1980, in Indio, California. Jackie Cochran was an American pilot who held more speed, distance, and altitude records than any other flyer during her career. In 1964 she flew an aircraft faster than any woman had before.
Pittman grew up in poverty and had little formal education. She later claimed to have been an orphan in a foster home, but she actually lived with her family. Although she kept her birth family a secret until after she died, she did help support them later in life.
When she was 14, she married Robert Cochran, and they had a son, Robert, Jr., in 1921. Robert, Jr., died in 1925, and the couple divorced in 1927.
Jackie Cochran had trained as a beautician and pursued that career in Montgomery, Alabama, in Pensacola, Florida, and from roughly 1931 in New York City, where she took the name Jacqueline.
Cochran met Floyd Bostwick Odlum, founder of Atlas Corp and CEO of RKO in Hollywood. Fourteen years her senior, he was reputed to be one of the 10 wealthiest men in the world. Odlum became enamoured with Cochran, respecting her determination and work ethic, and offered to help her establish a cosmetics business in 1935.
Odlum, whom she married in 1936 after his divorce, was an astute financier and savvy marketer who recognized the value of publicity for her business. Calling her line of cosmetics Wings to Beauty, she flew her own aircraft around the country promoting her products. Years later, Odlum used his Hollywood connections to get Marilyn Monroe to endorse Cochran’s line of lipstick. Wings to Beauty grew and prospered under her management until she sold it in 1963.
Cochran took her first flying lessons in 1932 and got her pilot’s license in three weeks. She soon mastered the technical aspects of aviation and navigation, later studying privately with a navy pilot friend in San Diego, California.￼
In 1935 Cochran became the first woman to enter the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race; in 1937 she came in third, and in 1938 she won the Bendix Trophy, flying a Seversky pursuit plane. In June 1941 she piloted a bomber to England and there, as a flight captain in the British Air Transport Auxiliary, trained a group of female pilots for war transport service. Upon her return to the United States, she undertook a similar program for the Army Air Forces and in July 1943 was named director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), which supplied more than a thousand auxiliary pilots for the armed forces. At the end of the war she served for a time as a Pacific and European correspondent for Liberty magazine. In 1945 she became the first woman civilian to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and in 1948 was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
In 1953, eager to make the transition to jet aircraft, Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, piloting a North American F-86 Sabre. That year she set world speed records for 15-, 100-, and 500-km courses.
Cochran was also the first woman to land and take off from an aircraft carrier, the first woman to pilot a bomber across the North Atlantic (in 1941) and later to fly a jet aircraft on a transatlantic flight, the first woman to make a blind (instrument) landing, the first woman to fly a fixed-wing, jet aircraft across the Atlantic, the first pilot to fly above 20,000 feet (6,096 m) with an oxygen mask. She still holds more distance and speed records than any pilot living or dead, male or female.
Her autobiography, “The Stars at Noon”, written with Floyd B. Odlum, her husband from 1936, appeared in 1954.
Cochran continued to break her old records and set new ones, including an altitude mark of 55,253 feet (16,841 metres) in 1961, and in 1964 she set the standing women’s world speed record of 1,429 miles (2,300 km) per hour in an F-104G Starfighter jet. In 1969 she was promoted to colonel in the reserve, from which she retired in 1970. She continued as a special National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) consultant after her retirement.
In 1959–63 Cochran was the first woman president of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, and she was also a member of many other aviation and service-connected organizations. She was inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame in 1965 and the U.S. Aviation Hall of Fame in 1971.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jacqueline-Cochran https://en.m.wikipedia.org › wiki › J…Jacqueline Cochran – Wikipedia
First, a Joke:
Why couldn’t the fighter jet pilot communicate with his co-pilot?
He hadn’t broken the sound barrier yet.
Second, a Song:
In June 1941 Cochran piloted a bomber to England and there, as a flight captain in the British Air Transport Auxiliary, trained a group of female pilots for war transport service. Upon her return to the United States, she undertook a similar program for the Army Air Forces and in July 1943 was named director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), which supplied more than a thousand auxiliary pilots for the armed forces. This video focusses on her work as director of WASP. However it also highlights many of her other accomplishments.
Congratulations to the high school student who created this. She won her high school history fair, rightly so!
We hope you enjoy it!!!
Thought for the Day:
“I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand… Adventure is a state of mind and spirit.” – Jacqueline Cochran
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Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2022 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky