Louise Thaden

Louise Thaden

Nick Name
: N/A
:12 Nov,1905
:113 years, 9 months
:Bentonville, Arkansas, United States
: Bentonville public schools,University of Arkansas
Debut On
Retired On
: 1938

About Louise Thaden

Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden (November 12, 1905 – November 9, 1979) was an American aviation pioneer, holder of numerous aviation records, and the first woman to win the Bendix trophy.


Thaden rapidly became a major figure in the aviation world and set many world performance records and won many major flying events. In 1929 she became the first pilot to hold the women's altitude, endurance and speed records in light planes simultaneously. Thaden set the women's altitude record in December 1928 with a mark of 20,260 feet. In March 1929 she set the women's endurance record with a flight of 22 hours, 3 minutes, 12 seconds.

Women were barred from air racing from 1930 to 1935, due to sexism.

Women's Air Derby:

Thaden was a friend and rival of pioneer aviators Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, Opal Kunz and Blanche Noyes. Thaden defeated her colleagues in the first Women's Air Derby also known as the Powder Puff Derby in 1929. The Air Derby was a transcontinental race from Santa Monica, California to Cleveland, Ohio, which was the site of the National Air Races that year. It took place from August 13–20, 1929. Twenty women were entered in the race. Marvel Crosson was killed. Earhart damaged her aircraft at Yuma, Arizona, Barnes became lost and flew into Mexico and damaged her plane attempting to get back on course, and Noyes suffered an in-flight fire over Texas.

Louise Thaden Achievements

Honors and Awards:

  • Harmon Trophy (Aviatrix) Federation Aeronautique Internationale, 1936, Champion Aviatrix of the United States
  • Baltimore Sunday News Outstanding Female Trophy, 1932
  • Famous Aviators Wall, Mission Inn, Riverside, CA
  • Civil Air Patrol: Distinguished Service Award; Exceptional Service Award; Meritorious Service Award with Cluster
  • OX5 Club of America, Broadwick Award - Outstanding Aviatrix
  • Citation: The Society of Experimental Test Pilots
  • Airport: Louise M. Thaden Field, Bentonville, AR
  • The Louise M. Thaden Office & Library, Staggerwing Museum, Tullahoma, TN, 1974
  • OX5 Pioneer Aviators Hall of Fame
  • OX5 Silver Wings Achievement Award, 1973
  • Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame, 1980
  • First Flight Society Aviation Hall of Fame, Kitty Hawk, NC, 1988
  • Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame, 1989
  • Recreation flight, 1929 First Women's Air Derby, 60th Anniversary, 1989, Susan Dusenbury, pilot
  • Flying helmet taken aboard Atlantis Space Shuttle by Mission Specialist Linda Goodwin, Ph.D., NASA Flight #STS-37, April 5-11, 1991
  • Staggerwing Beech Commemorative Tour honoring Louise Thaden, winner of 1936 Bendix Transcontinental Air Race; 60th Anniversary, August 1996
  • Award of Achievement, The Ninety-Nines, Inc., July 1997
  • The International Aerospace Hall of Fame of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, April 1999
  • National Aviation Hall of Fame, Dayton OH, July 1999
  • Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame, March 2000
  • Louise Thaden Woman of the Year Award - Annual presentation by Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce at the NW AR Business Women's Conference, began 2000
  • Women in Aviation, International - named as one of the "100 Women Who Made a Difference" in the history of aviation, 14th annual conference, March 2003