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High-Flying Women: A World History of Female Pilots
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Business Insights for Women
PNC INSIGHTS Magazine Spring/Summer 2014 Issue
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The sky was not the limit for these enterprising women.

When you think of female pioneers of aviation, what names come to mind? Amelia Earhart, of course, and the astronaut Sally Ride, perhaps. If your list ends there, it may come as a surprise to learn that women have been integral to the history of human-powered flight even before "Baroness" Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman to receive a pilot's license in 1910, seven years after the Wright Brothers first took to the air.

In just under 200 photo-filled pages, Alain Pelletier's High-Flying Women documents the subjects' lives and exploits. In 50 riveting profiles, from de Laroche to astronaut Eileen Marie Collins, the first female commander of a Space Shuttle, Pelletier details the stories of individual women in context with major historical eras. 

The narratives highlight achievements that both amuse and inspire. The brilliant, self-promoting Harriet Quimby, who designed her own plum-colored flight suit that could be transformed into a dress, became the first woman to cross the English Channel. Daredevil Gladys Roy would dance the Charleston on the wing of a biplane. During World War II--decades before the U.S. military lifted the ban on women in combat--Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) flew military aircraft, while female Soviet pilots were shooting down enemy planes during the conflict. Bessie Coleman, who became the first black woman pilot in the history of aviation in 1921, traveled to France to earn her license because she was unwelcome by flight schools in the U.S.

These women all risked--and some sadly lost--their lives as they attempted to push back the frontiers of human achievement. But the majority of these pioneers, particularly in the early years, were successful businesswomen as well, adept at promoting themselves, garnering sponsors for their projects and reaping the monetary rewards.

 


 

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