Jacqueline Cochran is known for her position as the director of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots program and impressive career as a pioneering aviatrix. Cochran worked hard for her many accomplishments and awards. Born in the panhandle Florida town of DeFuniak Springs, Cochran grew up as a member of an impoverished, uneducated family. As a young woman Cochran became fascinated by airplanes and learned all she could about them. She decided to do whatever it took to one day be able to fly in one.
Cochran’s dream was realized by her early twenties. Not long after receiving her pilot’s license, Jackie’s name started to become widely recognized. She began entering and winning air races, such as the Bendix and the MacRobertson Air Race, won prestigious aviation awards, broke national and international records, became friends with such famous and influential people as Amelia Earhart and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and owned a multimillion dollar cosmetics line called Wings.
When WWII began, Cochran used her influence and connections to propose a plan for the training and mobilization of women United States pilots. Commander of the Army Air Force General Henry “Hap” Arnold rejected her plan. A year later, however, the general asked her to observe British women pilots who were serving in the Royal Air Force. Soon after she was asked to organize and assist a group of twenty-five American women pilots for service in Great Britain.
Cochran’s successful execution of her assigned tasks, combined with a shortage of United States male pilots caused General Arnold to take her suggestion of two years prior seriously. In September 1942, Jackie became Director of Woman’s Flying Training. Less than a year later she was made part of the General Staff of the U. S. Army Air Forces and assigned with the directing the WASP. Her work earned her the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal in 1945.
After her services to the United States Army were no longer needed, Jackie Cochran went back to setting new records. By the time she passed on 9 August 1980, the famous pilot held more international altitude, distance, and speed records than any pilot in the world. This is still the case.