Pioneers of Flight
杰奎琳·科克伦1906 - 1971
Best known for being the first woman to break the sound barrier, serial record-breaker Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran was also instrumental in advocating for female aviators during WWII. She was born Bessie Lee Pittman in 1906, into a poor family in Defuniak Springs, Florida. To support her family she worked in textile mills and later in a beauty salon, but was always fascinated by aviation. After a chance meeting with business financier Floyd Odlum in 1932, who encouraged her to pursue her dreams, Cochran spent four years earning her commercial pilot’s license alongside setting up a beauty business. Eventually she began visiting her clients and suppliers by flying her own plane. By 1935 she was participating successfully in major competitions alongside running a multi-million-dollar company. In 1936, she married Floyd Odlum and began competing in races. Around this time she also made friends with fellow aviator Amelia Earhart.
As War began to brew in Europe, Cochran realized that women could play a major role if the United States were to become involved. She wrote to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt suggesting the formation of a women’s flying division. Mrs. Roosevelt put her in touch with Army Air Force General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, but he wasn’t keen on the idea.
Undeterred, Cochran threw herself into air racing. In 1940 she broke both the national 100 kilometer and international 2,000 kilometer speed records, and won the Women‘s National Aviation Association award as the outstanding woman pilot each year between 1938 and 1941. She also set the woman’s national altitude record and broke the international open-class speed record for both men and women.
In 1941, General “Hap” Arnold revisited her proposal and asked her to travel to England to observe the Wings for Britain program – an organization that flew American-built aircraft to Britain. In June 1941 Cochran became the first woman to fly a bomber across the North Atlantic. In July 1943 she was appointed to the General Staff of the U.S. Army Air Forces to lead the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, where she trained women pilots for the duration of the war. In 1945 she was awarded the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal for her efforts.
After the war, Cochran continued set international and transcontinental records. In May 1953 she became the first woman to break the sound barrier, at Rogers Dry Lake, California. In the 1960s she was involved in a scheme to test women’s ability to become astronauts in the Mercury 13 program.
To honor her many piloting achievements, Cochran was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in in 1971 – the first woman to receive this accolade. To this day she holds more international records for speed, distance, and altitude than any other pilot in history, male or female. However, soon after her induction, ill health brought an end to her flying career. She retired to her home in Indio, California, where she immersed herself in bike riding, traveling, and working in her vegetable garden. She passed away at home on August 9th 1980 at the age of 74.
她是第一位驾驶飞机超越音障的女性，也是多项竞速飞行记录保持者。但是您可能不知道的是，杰奎琳·科克伦( Jacqueline Cochran)还是二战时期倡议培训女性飞行员的关键人物。杰奎琳·科克伦1906生于佛罗里达州德芬阿克泉市( Defuniak Springs)，原名贝西里·彼得曼( Bessie Lee Pittman)。由于家境贫寒，她自幼到棉织厂打工，而后到美发屋学艺，心中却始终为航空飞行而深深着迷。1932年巧遇金融家弗洛伊德·德卢姆 ( Floyd Odlum)，后者鼓励她追寻飞行梦。科克伦花了四年时间，在创办美容院的同时也考获商用飞行执照。很快地，她开始驾着自己的私人飞机四处接触美容业客户与供应商。到了1935年，不只将美容业务壮大到好几百万元规模，更在各大飞行比赛中频频载誉。1936年，她嫁给了德卢姆，此后开始参加竞速飞行比赛。这段期间，她也同另一位飞行员阿梅利亚·埃尔哈特( Amelia Earhart) 结为好友。
第二次世界大战在欧洲一触即发，科克伦意识到一旦美国卷入战争，妇女未尝不可扮演保家卫国的角色。于是，她致函第一夫人埃莉诺·罗斯福( Eleanor Roosevelt)，提议组织陆军航空队妇女队。罗斯福夫人将她推介给陆军航空队司令亨利·阿里·阿诺德( Henry H. “Hap” Arnold)，但后者对这个提议不感兴趣。
科克伦毫不动摇，转而投入航空竞速。她在1940年刷新了100公里及2,000公里飞行速度新纪录，并于1938年至1941年之间的四年里四度赢得美国女子航空协会 ( Women‘s National Aviation Association) 所颁发的年度最杰出女飞行员荣衔。她也缔造了全美国女子飞行高度新纪录，同时改写男子和女子的世界飞行竞速记录。
1941年，阿诺德司令重新考虑科克伦当年提出的建议，请她赴英国考察“为英国添翼”( Wings for Britain)项目，这个组织负责将美国制造的飞行器飞到英国。1941年6月，科克伦成了第一位驾驶轰炸机横越北大西洋的女飞行员。1943年7月，她受委为美国陆军航空队职员，领导女子航空勤务飞行队( Women Airforce Service Pilots)，在整个二战期间负责培训女飞行员。1945年，科克伦对战事的贡献得到认可，获美国政府颁予杰出服务奖章。
战后，科克伦继续缔造多项国际及洲际记录。1953年5月，她在加利福尼亚州罗杰斯干湖( Rogers Dry Lake)空军基地成为第一位突破音障的女飞行员。1960年代，她参与水星13号计划，负责遴选和考核女性宇航员。
科克伦的飞行成就与贡献显赫， 1971年成为进驻航空名人堂的第一位女性。迄今，科克伦在飞行速度、航程、高度所持有的世界纪录在航空史上无人能及，无论男性女性。遗憾的是，获选登上名人堂后不久，她的健康开始走下坡，飞行生涯终告终结。她返回加州印地奥( Indio)老家安享晚年，平日喜欢骑自行车、旅游、或在自家菜园里种植花草。她在1980年8月9日在家中逝世，终年74岁。