A sonic boom erupted through the airwaves for the first time by a woman on this day in 1964. Jacqueline Cochran pioneered the future of aviation by breaking records previously held by her male counterparts.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Jacqueline Cochran, was born May 11, 1906, in Muscogee, Florida Cochran and died August 9, 1980, in Indio, California, with the highest honors.
Cochran was an American aviator who broke and held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any pilot who came before her. Inevitably, she broke the sound barrier and flew faster than any other woman up until that point. She grew up poor and without a formal education and overcame adversity.
At the age of 8, she moved to Georgia with her family. In 1921, she was married at 14 and had a son named Robert Jr who unfortunately died four years later in 1925. In 1927 she trained as a beautician and pursued that career in Montgomery, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida. New York City, the big apple, is where she went by the moniker, Jacqueline Cochran .
- In 1932 she received her pilot’s license in three weeks. She soon mastered the technical aspects of aviation and navigation, later studying privately with a navy pilot friend in San Diego, California.
- In 1935 she organized a cosmetics firm, Jacqueline Cochran Cosmetics, which was successful until the day she sold it in 1963.
- In 1935 Cochran became the first woman to enter the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race.
- In 1937 she came in third in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race.
- In June 1941, she piloted a bomber to England and there, as a flight captain in the British Air Transport Auxiliary, trained a group of female pilots for war transport service.
- In July 1943, she was named director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), which supplied more than a thousand auxiliary pilots for the armed forces. At the end of the war, she served for a time as a Pacific and European correspondent for Liberty magazine.
- In 1945 she became the first woman civilian to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
- In 1948 was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
- In 1953, eager to make the transition to jet aircraft, Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, piloting an F-86, and that year set world speed records for 15-, 100-, and 500-km courses. In 1954 her autobiographical The Stars at Noon, written with Floyd B. Odlum, her husband from 1936, hit store shelves.
Jacqueline Cochran will forever be known as the first woman to break the sonic barrier and one of the most talented aviators, entrepreneurs, and Americans.