It has been 90 years since Amelia Earhart became the very first female to fly solo across the Atlantic. On May 21, 1932, a 34-year-old Earhart flew from Newfoundland in a Lockheed Vega, landing in Ballyarnnett, Londonderry after just 15 hours, becoming not only the first woman to make the passage, and the first person to have flown the ocean twice, but also breaking a world record for the fastest Atlantic crossing.
To mark the 90th anniversary of Earhart’s historic crossing, and the amazing legacy she left for women over the last nine decades, App in the Air celebrates outstanding women in the aviation industry.
Born to travel: Hannah Dawn
Travel is in leading App in the Air ambassador, Hannah Dawn’s, blood. After working as a flight attendant for Delta for two and half years, Hannah needed an extra challenge. She loved traveling and flying, and so she decided to take the leap and become a pilot. Taking advantage of Delta’s transition program, she began working towards her commercial aviation license and completed her training this year.
In an interview with App in the Air, Hannah offered advice to other women hoping to break into the industry and become pilots:
First things first: you gotta keep at it because it takes a lot of time and energy. It’s definitely a challenge and not just mentally, but also financially. But I think of it as an investment in myself, because at the end of the day, I’ll be doing something I love… So, just stick with it and find mentors — a big thing in aviation is connections. Seek out people who have similar goals as you, or who have been where you are and get advice from them, and really immerse yourself in that culture there, because that’s how you’re going find your best opportunities and you’ll also make some friends along the way.
Overcoming fears to chase the dream: Fiona Morrison
Fiona Morrison has been a pilot since 2019, starting out as a student at ATP Flight School, eventually becoming a flight instructor herself, and is now an airline transport pilot. She told us about what inspired her to choose a career in the aviation industry and some of the obstacles that she had to overcome to achieve her dream:
I was inspired to become a pilot by my family, but more specifically my cousins. I come from a family of aviators, three generations deep, but it was my generation who made me realise this is a doable and exciting career if I just opened my mind to it… Being scared of heights and always getting motion sick were some hurdles that I had to get over, and my family was incredibly supportive while I took endless intro flights to make sure I could handle it. I owe a lot to my family for inspiring me to find my passion for aviation.
Fighting racism and gender bias: Bessie Coleman
Just over a century ago, Bessie Coleman became the very first black woman to earn a pilot’s license. Aviation’s gender bias and racism saw her rejected by flight schools across the United States, so “Brave Bessie” as she became known, learned to speak French, traveled to France and earned her qualification. On June 15, 1921, Brave Bessie took the skies as a qualified pilot! She never took no for an answer, performing daring tricks in her Curtis JN-4 Jenny Biplane, and performing sold-out shows.
Bravely fighting WWII: Mary Ellis
Mary Ellis was a member of the “Glamour Girls,” an elite group of female fighter pilots for the Royal Air Force in World War II. She enlisted in the RAF after hearing a radio advertisement in 1941 calling for female pilots. Ellis made over 1,000 flights during her career on over 76 different types of planes, but her favourite was the single-engine fighter plane, the Supermarine Spitfire. “A legend of the Air Transport Auxiliary” who inspired many women to fly, Ellie passed away in 2018 in her home on the Isle of Wight.
Inspiring the next generation: Carole Hopson
Carole Hopson quit her 20-year corporate career to pursue her dream of becoming a pilot. Today, Hopson is a First Officer for United Airlines, flying the Boeing 737 from her home base in Newark, New Jersey. When she’s not flying, Hopson gives motivational speeches, working to inspire the next generation of female pilots to find their own pair of wings.
Pushing boundaries in the RAF: Jo Salter
Jo Salter joined the Royal Air Force at 18. She rose through the ranks and became the first British female to become a fast jet pilot, flying the Panavia Tornado ground attack aircraft with 617 Squadron. Salter retired from the RAF in 2000, now working as an aviation instructor and motivational speaker.