Women in Aviation


Women have made a significant contribution to aviation since the Wright Brothers' first 12-second flight in 1903. Although their first flight was in 1908, women have slowly and progressively gained full access to military and commercial cockpits, as well as the Space Shuttle and aerospace technology. Today, women pilots fly for the airlines, fly in the military and in space, fly air races, command helicopter flights, teach students to fly, maintain jet engines, etc.


Thérèse Peltier (1873–1926) was a French aviator, popularly believed to have been the first ever woman passenger in an airplane; she should perhaps instead be recognized as the first woman to pilot a heavier-than-air craft in 1908. Blanche Stuart Scott was the first American women to fly solo an aeroplane on 2 September 1910. In 1911, Harriet Quimby became the first licensed woman pilot, and on 16 April 1912, she became the first women to fly across the English Channel. By 1930, there were 200 women pilots and, by 1935, there were between 700 and 800 licensed women pilots.


Although the full impact of all women in aviation cannot be related in this page, there are some of those women whose contributions are noted in ICAO’s philatelic collection.


Mrs. Hart O. Berg

Mrs. Hart O. Berg, USA, was the Wrights' business agent in Europe; when she watched Wilbur Wright demonstrate the Wright Flyer at Le Mans, France, she was so thrilled by the performance that she asked Wilbur for a ride. Thus, on 7 October 1908, she became the first American woman to fly as a passenger in an airplane, soaring for two minutes and seven seconds. Seated in the right seat of the aircraft, she tied a rope securely around her skirt at her ankles to keep it from blowing in the wind during the flight. A French fashion designer watching the flight was impressed with the way Mrs. Berg walked away from the aircraft with her skirt still tied. Mrs. Berg was then credited with inspiring the famous "Hobble Skirt" fashion.


The stamp (with ICAO emblem) was issued by Cyprus on 23 October 1978 (75th Anniversary of first powered flight).

This first day cover shows Wilbur Wright and Mrs. Hart O. Berg in the Wright Flyer, 1908.

The cover is part of the album “The History of Aviation - First Day Cover Collection” (“La Collection d’Enveloppes Premier Jour de l’Histoire de L'Aviation”) containing nearly 100 different first day covers, from all over the world, issued in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the first engine-powered flight (1978), by The Franklin Philatelic Society under the auspices of FAI, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (International Aeronautical Federation), Lausanne, Switzerland. The album cover shows the FAI emblem.


Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001) was an American author, aviator and the spouse of fellow aviator Charles Lindbergh. She obtained her own glider pilot's license in 1931, becoming the first American woman to do so. Much time during the early years of the Lindberghs' marriage was spent flying. Anne served as her husband's co-pilot, navigator and radio operator on history-making explorations, charting potential air routes for commercial airlines. They made air surveys across the continent and in the Caribbean to pioneer Pan American's air mail service. In 1931, they journeyed, in a single-engine airplane, over uncharted routes from Canada and Alaska to Japan and China. They then completed, in the same single-engine Lockheed "Sirius," a five-and-one-half-month, 30,000-mile survey of North and South Atlantic air routes in 1933. Charles Lindbergh characterized this expedition as more difficult and hazardous than his epic New York-to-Paris flight in 1927 in the "Spirit of St. Louis."





United Nations - 12 June 1978 - Safety in the Air

In recognition of Charles A. Lindbergh as a pioneer in civil aviation and in confirmation of his belief in its future, the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and the artistry of Ole Hamann from Denmark have been combined on the cover and lithography to create a meaningful and artistic record of the theme of this stamp issue Safety in the Air. The artwork incorporates a quotation, signed on the plate by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, under a striking painting by Ole Hamann showing a bird in flight, with several shades of blue enhanced by a lighter blue background and a blue lettering. Ole Hamann was the third Chief, United Nations Postal Administration. The above cover and lithography (numbered 102/1000) were the first WFUNA design ever to feature two contributors, i.e. Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Ole Hamann, and their signatures.

The quotation on the front of the cover and lithography is from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s response on behalf of her late husband, to the presentation of the Edward Warner Award from ICAO on 6 November 1975: The early flyers loved flying for itself – for the freedom and beauty of the sky, the adventure of life in the air … They wanted flying to be safer and faster … My husband believed that aviation would be one of the great forces of the future to bring nations together.


Amelia Earhart

Amelia Mary Earhart (1897–1937) was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (1932). She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. Earhart joined the faculty of the Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and helped inspire others with her love for aviation. During an attempt to make a circumnavigation flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.


USA, 12 December 1928 - International Conference on Civil Aeronautics (12/12/28 to 14/12/28)

and 25th Anniversary of Wright brothers’ first flight (17 December 1903)

First Day Cover – Picture showing Orville Wright, President of the Aeronautics Association, Senator Hiram Bingham, Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis, Amelia Earhart, Igor Sikorsky, Giovanni Battista Caproni (Italian aircraft manufacturer) at Kitty Hawk.

On the afternoon of 17 December 1928, the Delegates to the International Civil Aeronautics Conference arrived at the Kill Devil Hills (at Kitty Hawk, N.C., USA) memorial site, twenty-five years after the Wrights' historic flight. At two o'clock, Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis laid the cornerstone of the planned national monument at the top of the dune. Senator Hiram Bingham, president of the National Aeronautical Association, spoke and unveiled an inscribed ten-ton granite boulder (see left-side on this cover), bearing a commemorative bronze plate in honour of the Wright Brothers and erected on the identical spot where their plane took off under its own power and with Orville Wright at the controls on 17 December 1903.


Turks and Caicos Islands - 28 February 1985 - 40th Anniversary of ICAO

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed 10E Electra (1937)



Artwork and plaque offered by the Canadian Delegation to the ICAO Staff Association on 19 May 2011:

“Amelia: A tribute to Aviation’s Women Pioneers”

The actual registration number of Earhart's Lockheed 10E Electra was NR16020.

Both numbers found on the image and the plaque are different from the actual registration number of the aircraft.