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)
In 1928, Smith, at age 16, became the youngest pilot to earn a license, which was signed by Orville Wright. She made headlines later that year in a daring feat—flying under New York City’s four East River bridges. With Bobbi Trout as co-pilot, they became the first women aviators to refuel a plane in mid-air in 1929. A group of her peers, including Amelia Earhart, voted her Best Female Pilot in 1930. Smith set numerous speed, altitude, distance, and endurance records in the 1930s, then took a break to raise four children. She resumed flying in the 1950s, piloting military transport planes and jets.
Read more about Elinor Smith at our Around the Mall blog