Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran (1906-1980) is considered one of the world’s pioneering aviatrix. During the span of her 40-year flying career, she set more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot in history.
Her piloting career began in 1932, with her first record set in 1934 when she flight-tested the first turbo-supercharger ever installed on an aircraft engine. She also went on to become the first person to fly above 20,000 with an oxygen mask.
In 1941, she became the first woman to pilot a military bomber across the Atlantic Ocean. During WWII, she headed the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, providing pilots and flight instructors for the war efforts. She later led the congressional efforts in fighting to earn the WASP member's veteran status.
One of her most well-known feats was accomplished at the Antelope Valley’s own Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB), where in May of 1953, she became the first woman to break the sound barrier while flying a USAF F-86A Sabre. Chuck Yeager accompanied her on this flight, acting as her chase pilot. She returned to EAFB numerous times in the following years, setting several more records, including international speed and altitude achievements.
To commemorate her feats, EAFB named May 16 as “Jackie Cochran Day”, with a plaque dedicated to her and her accomplishments in aviation.