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“They Had What It Takes – Part 24: “Jackie” Cochran” by Alden McWilliams

Link - Posted by David on March 15, 2011 @ 3:41 pm in

In the late thirties Flying Aces ran Alden McWilliams’ monthly illustrated tribute to the pioneer fliers of the early days of aviation which was called “They Had What it Takes”. In the January 1939 issue they featured Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran, a pioneering American aviator who was considered to be one of the most gifted racing pilots of her time. Originally working in the cosmetics industry, her husband encouraged her to take up flying as a means to travel more efficiently, Jackie took to it like a duck takes to water and soon realized that flying was her passion, not cosmetics.

A few career highlights beyond McWilliam’s piece: in 1942 Jackie was asked to organize the Women’s Flying Training Detatchment (WFTD) to train women to handle basic military flight support; the following year she was appointed to lead the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP); in 1953 she became the first woman to break the sound barrier, and set eight more speed records in 1967 when she was over 60 years old!

Jackie kept going until a serious cardiac condition finally grounded her. By the time of her death in 1980, Jackie had recieved more than 200 awards and trophies and set more speed and altitude records than any other pilot.

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