Flying With America's Most Famous Female Aviators
Dozens of talented women preceded Amelia Earhart, and thousands have followed, and each has her own groundbreaking story to tell
- By Patricia Trenner
- Smithsonian.com, October 22, 2009
(Bettmann / Corbis)
After the 1949 crash of an aircraft in which Auriol was a passenger, the glamourous French stunt flier faced 22 surgeries to put her face back together. Yet her first words in the ambulance en route to the hospital were, “Will it be long before I can fly again?” In 1950 she was the first woman pilot admitted to France’s military Flight Test Centre and became a leading miltary test pilot. For the next 12 years, she swapped speed records with her American rival, Jacqueline Cochran. Auriol set her last record in 1963, piloting a Mirage IIIR at 1,266 mph.