Omlie, not Amelia

The average high school textbook gives the impression that Amelia Earhart was the only female pilot during the 1920s and 1930s. Rarely do you read about Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie. Born in 1902, she was one of the first women to become a licensed pilot in the United States and the first to receive an aircraft repairman’s license.

She built her hours and earned a living as a member of a flying circus and as a stunt pilot in the “”Perils of Pauline”” movie shorts. During the 1920s she set many speed records as an air race pilot. She was also a founding member of the Ninety-Nines.

Her aviation prowess did not go unnoticed by the influential people of the day. During the 1932 presidential campaign Franklin Delano Roosevelt hired her to be his pilot. FDR was so impressed by her that after he won the election he appointed her to serve as liaison between the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the Bureau of Air Commerce.

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