Cochran, Jacqueline

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American pilot, journalist, and businesswoman

Cochran was born sometime between 1906 and 1910, and was orphaned as a baby. She was a foster child in a feckless, poverty-stricken family (she got her first pair of shoes when she was eight years old), whose mother beat her birth children as well as Jacqueline, and was working when she was eight, so she never had a proper education, teaching herself to read by looking at the boxcars passing her home.

She became a very successful hairdresser in New York. Her fiancé, a millionaire, suggested she learn to fly to help save time in her expanding business empire, and she got her pilot's license in 1932 (it took her only two days to go solo and 20 to get her license). In 1938 she won the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race. During World War II she helped found the Women Air Force Service Pilots service and trained over 1,000 women pilots.

She was an accredited journalist, covering the Japanese surrender and Nürnberg War Crimes Trials, and was the first American woman to go to Japan after the war.

She held more speed, distance and altitude records than any other pilot of her time. In 1937, 1938 and 1939 she was voted the world's leading woman pilot, in 1957 she became the first woman to break the sound barrier and in 1971 she became the first woman to be named to the Aviation Hall of Fame. At her death she held more speed and altitude records than any other person in the world, man or woman.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992)
Cochran, Jacqueline. The Stars at Noon. (New York: Arno Press, 1979)
Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97
Smith, Elizabeth Simpson. Coming Out Right: The Story of Jacqueline Cochran, the First Woman Aviator to Break the Sound Barrier. (New York: Walker & Co., 1991)
"Jacqueline Cochran." [Includes portrait]. Available at: and also at:
"Jacqueline Cochran, America's Fastest Woman." [Includes portrait]. Available at:


20th Century
Business and Industry
Engineering, Technology, Aviation, Inventions
Exploration, Adventure
Fashion, Hairdressing and Modeling; Beauty Queens
Military and Defense
Self-made Men and Women
Poor Educational Opportunities, Self-taught
Formal, American/European-Type Fostering
Birth or Infancy
Orphaned (Both Parents)
Others ("Strangers")
Adoptive/Foster Family Included Birth Child(ren)
Wealthy, Famous, Noble or Divine Adoptive or Foster Families
Very Poor (Financially) Adoptive or Foster Families
Parent(s) Died, Disappeared or Became Incapacitated
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