Cochrane (1906-1980) rose above a poverty-stricken childhood to become one of history’s most accomplished female aviators.
In 1935, she became the first woman to fly in the Bendix Trophy Race, which she won in 1938. In 1937, she became the first woman to make a blind instrument landing.
She set new women’s records during 1939-40, in altitude and open class speed.
During World War II, she was the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean, leading to the formation of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program.
In 1953, she became the first woman to exceed the speed of sound.
In 1962, she became the first woman to fly a jet, a Canadair F-86 Sabre, subsequently setting 73 records in three years.
She exceeded Mach 2 in 1964, flying an F-104 Starfighter.