Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood are usually the names that spring to mind when you think about actors who possess pilot licenses. However, they are far from being the only A-list thespians that have broken not just into Hollywood, but into the skies as well. This article lists 9 of the most influential female pilots that ever lived.
Gisele Bundche. Photo Courteys of Mark Edwards
Brazilian model and Victoria’s Secret Angel Gisele Bundchen learned to fly a Robinson R44 helicopter while she was pregnant with her and Tom Brady’s child. She was able to get her license in 2009. Bundchen is an advocate of sustainable flying via the use of alternative fuel, and worked with the UN’s Environmental Programme to campaign the initiative.
Carol Vorderman has been a popular figure on British TV for over 30 years. Her career began in 1982 when she joined a game show called Countdown and appeared on the show with Des O'Connor and Des Lynam. She took some personal time off from the screen to do what she has always dreamed off: take off, fly solo, and be one with the skies. Vorderman earned her license back in 2013, and in November 2014, she became an Ambassador to the Royal Air Force Air Cadets. She was given an honorary title of Captain and is the first female ambassador in the RAF Air Cadets' history.
Carol Vorderman. Photo Courtesy of The Daily Mirror
Angelina Jolie established her reputation of being a female action star when she played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. The video game series that spawned a multi-million dollar empire went beyond video games, breaching new heights regarding merchandise and even its own Tomb Raider slot title launched on Spin Genie. The role put her on the map in terms of being an action hero on and off screen, giving her the strength to do most of her own stunts in the film series. Getting her pilot’s license proves just how fearless Jolie is in real life. She currently flies a Cirrus SR22 aircraft.
Angelina Jolie. Photo courtesy of Rebrn
Hillary Swank. Photo Courtesy of Beyazperde
Hilary Swank played Amelia Earhart, the pilot who vanished as she attempted to fly solo around the world, in the biopic Amelia. The role required her to learn how to fly, and it seems she was a natural. However, she was unable to get her license while filming because her insurance company wouldn’t allow her to because of the contract she was working under, according to a post on Fox News.
While no reports have since been released on whether she was able to complete the requirements that would grant her a license, it’s only a matter of time before Swank becomes a fully fledged pilot, hence why we have included her in this list.
Now, let's step back into history and check out some fascinating women who became instant celebrities because of their feats in the Aeronautics industry.
Omile was the first ever woman to earn a transport license back in 1927. She won the Dixie Derbie Air Race in 1930, as well as the National Air Races in Cleveland the following year. She was also the first woman to be admitted into the aforementioned races. Omile went to Washington DC as a private flying specialist for the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) to help the U.S. prepare for World War II. She chose flying schools that served as training centers for military flyers and convinced the CAA to hire women as flight instructors. Her proposal was accepted by the Tennessee Bureau of Aeronautics, forever changing the future of America's aeronautics.
Fay Gillis Wells
Wells was a popular journalist, broadcaster, and an American pioneer aviator. Back in 1929, she established the Ninety-Nines, the international organization for licensed female pilots. She used her skills as a broadcast journalist and corresponded from the Soviet Union in the '30s, as well as pioneered overseas radio broadcasting with her husband, Linton Wells.
In the same year, she and her husband performed sensitive government missions in Africa and carried on their mission for many more years. She also promoted world friendship through flying.
Elinor Smith. Photo Courtesy of Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
Smith was the youngest pilot to have ever received a Federation Aeronautique International (FAI) license and was signed by Orville Wright. At the age of 16, she became the first and only female pilot to have maneuvered a plane under all four of NYC's bridges, which resulted in a 10-day grounding by the mayor of New York. In 1929, she participated in an endurance flying competition that lasted for 42 hours. Before she even hit 20, she was voted the best female pilot in the U.S.
Bobbi Trout. Photo Courtesy of the LA Times
Trout earned her license to fly solo in 1928. One of her most popular feats was regaining the women's endurance record from Elinor Smith, and also gaining recognition as the first woman to fly an aircraft throughout the night. Trout was the first woman to cover thousands of miles using a 60-horsepower engine. In 1966, she received the Howards Hughes Memorial Award from the Aero Club of Southern California.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Lindbergh was the first ever female American pilot to earn a glider's license. She used that license, as well as learning how to read Morse code, in order to help her husband pioneer routes for the airline industry. In 1933, she accompanied her husband on a 5-month 30,000-mile survey for the Transcontinental Air Transport surveying Greenland, Russia, Iceland, England, Spain, Brazil, and Africa.
Lindbergh received several honors and awards throughout her life in recognition to her contributions to the aviation industry. In 1933, she received the U.S. Flag Association Cross of Honor for taking part in surveying transatlantic air routes. She also received the Hubbard Medal by the National Geographic Society for completing 40,000-miles of explorations while in the air.
Dr. Victoria Bateman, an esteemed economist best known for her nude protests for gender equality, uses her body as a form of art that serves to challenge the stigma around women's bodies and women's rights, in the world of economics. In March 2018, Bateman attended the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society in Brighton stark naked with the word "respect" written across her chest and stomach. Unbashful in delivering her message, Bateman was determined to start a conversation.