Most of these twelve images of female pilots show them,
their airplanes and their activities during the 1929 and
1930 National Air Races.
It is significant that out of the 20 female competitors
in the now-classic 1929 "Powder Puff Derby", 13 of them are
signers of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register (Louise Thaden,
Gladys O'Donnell, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Elder, Neva Paris, Opal Kunz,
Mary Von Mach, Pancho
Barnes, Claire Fahy, Ruth
Nichols, Margaret Perry, Phoebe
Omlie and Bobbi
The collage of images below, location unknown, is most probably taken preceding
or during the famous 1929 "Powder Puff Derby".
It shows, top left,
top right, L to R, Louise Thaden (the ultimate winner of
"Powder Puff" Derby), Gladys O'Donnell (?) and
Bottom image, left, shows Margaret Perry or perhaps Blanche
Noyes (can anyone identify them
for sure?) Right image, taken with a top-view box camera
by a man in a fedora, looks very much like Mary von Mach.
Image, below, probably at the same 1929 "Powder
Puff Derby", location unknown. Pancho Barnes is at center;
others unidentified, can anyone help with
the identification? There is a rudder at right with a leading
numeral "6" on
it. Note the robust wheel chocks in the foreground. I understand this image is also available from the D.D. Hatfield Collection of the Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA.
Female Pilots, 1929
Image below is Ruth
Nichols in her 1929 Derby
airplane, a Rearwin Ken-Royce. Notice the "16" painted
over the finish on the fuselage, with the numerals made distinct
by painting a white relief band over the horizontal stripe.
Ruth was not to finish the race to Cleveland, however, as
she wrecked her airplane in a collision with with a steam
roller at Columbus, OH. So near, but yet so far.
If you have the book, compare Ruth's image
on page 234 of Jean Nora Jessen's "Powder Puff Derby of 1929".
You'll see her posed beside this same airplane, with the
"tonneau" unsnapped, and without the number 16 on the fuselage.
Ruth Nichols, 1929
Image, below, of Ruth Nichols, probably taken
at Tucson during her visit of 5/6/1929. She flew a Curtiss
Fledgling, NC5404, as part of a promotional tour for the
Aviation Country Clubs. Part of the ACC logo can be seen
on the fuselage at the right edge of the image. The whole
logo can be seen on page 148 of the Jessen book cited above.
I left the "Fox Co." decorative geometric frame on this image
as it came from the developer; a nice touch.
Ruth Nichols, Tucson 1929
Below, Gladys O'Donnell with her Waco. This
airplane is probably NC21M, S/N A-151 manufactured in 1929.
She flew this airplane in the "Powder Puff Derby" that year.
The airplane still exists. Pilot O'Donnell, like many of
the women cited on this page, was a Charter member of the
Omlie, pilot, mechanic
and successful air racer in Monocoupe aircraft. Upon enlarging
the original image and examining her hands, you can see
skinned knuckles and grease around her fingernails. She
practiced with her mechanic's license!
One of the aircraft she flew to Tucson, NR8917,
is still registered with the FAA today. In this image she
is probably on her way to Santa Monica for the 1929 National
Women's Air Derby. Some of the images of her during that
event show her in these same clothes.
The image below shows the winners of the 1930 National Air
Races Women's Class A Pacific Derby from Long Beach, CA to
Chicago, IL. The winners were, L to R, Mildred
Morgan (2nd Place and $2,100 prize winner), Jean
LaRene (3rd Place and $1,400 prize winner), Ruth
M. Stewart (4th), unidentified man,
Gladys O'Donnell (1st Place and $3,500 prize winner), Ruth
W. Barron (5th) and Marjorie Doig who was forced out at Emporia,
1930 National Air Races Winners, Chicago, IL
The image below is Jean LaRene with her 3rd place American
Eagle "Miss Chicago", 1930 National Air Races.
Jean LaRene, August-September 1930
The image below is a cigarette advertisment that literally
exploits (she was
a non-smoker) Amelia Earhart's popularity at the time she hitch-hiked across the Atlantic. Sure,
the cigarettes might have been CARRIED on the airplane, but
Amelia didn't SMOKE them. Toasted or not, we've come a long
way in our understanding of the hazards of tobacco use.
Cigarette Advertisement, ca. 1928
UPLOADED: 01/11/07 REVISED: