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Category: Amelia Earhart

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Everyone knows the name of Amelia Earhart, but how many others do we know of the equally daring female pilots—then called aviatrixes– who made their mark during the early days of flying?

In the wild and wooly barnstorming, daredevil days of aviation from its beginnings to World War II, there were few occupations outside the home open to women other than teaching, nursing and secretarying.  That’s when a group of adventurous females—some of them girls still in their teens– took to the skies, risking their lives flying flimsy wooden aircraft in open cockpits.  Often disparaged and mocked by the male pilots, there was both  camaraderie and competitiveness among these flygirls as records for speed, distance and altitude were swiftly set and broken, and there was a constant succession of ‘firsts’.

Here are their names, some common and some unusual, any of which would make an admirable namesake. (btw, some of these ‘first’ claims might appear to be contradictory).

ADRIENNE Bolland, a Frenchwoman who was the first to fly across the treacherous Andes mountains.

ALYS McKey Bryant,  the first woman to fly in Canada.

AMELIA Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air, making the fastest crossing on record in 1932 (for the rest, see the movie).

AMELIE (called Melli) Hedwig Boutard-Bess was an early German female aviator.

AMY Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

ANESIA Pinkeiro Machado was Brazil’s first female pilot.

ANNE Morrow Lindbergh, the first woman to earn a glider pilot license, in 1930, accompanied husband Charles on many flights.

BERYL Markham was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.

BESSICA Medlar Raiche constructed a biplane in her living room and made her first solo flight in 1910.

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What could be a greater gift to bestow on your daughter than a name with a heroic namesake, someone with an inspiring story to add a layer of pride to your little girl’s  feelings about her name–and give her great material for a school report?

The following is a list of mostly American women of great courage, perseverence and accomplishment—many of whom broke barriers for women– that could fill this bill.  And of course, this being nameberry, the name’s the thing, so apologies to all the equally distinguished Marys, Elizabeths, Sarahs and Anns who haven’t been included: the following  ladies were picked (almost) as much for their interesting names as for their  achievements.

ABIGAIL Adams – The first First Lady to occupy the White House and an  ntellectually equal partner of her husband, President John Adams.

ADA LOVELACE – daughter of the poet Byron whose work in mathematics was (probably) a precursor of the modern computer.

AMELIA Earhart — the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

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