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Jacqueline Cochran
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tjack JACQUELINE COCHRAN: Founder and Director of the WASP
Rags to riches doesn't even begin to describe her story.  As her husband describes the picture below, it's "the little girl in the center surrounded by some of the women she made herself into during her lifetime."    From barefoot girl stealing chickens to decorated pilot dining with kings, queens, presidents, pashas and premiers, Jacqueline Cochran was truly one-of-a-kind.  She went from sweeping up the beauty parlor to founding her own successful cosmetics company.  She worked as a shampoo girl and  a dancer, had a audience with the Pope, was best friends with Amelia Earhart and was founder and Director of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots--the WASP. She played poker with Jimmy Doolittle, was the first woman to enter Japan after World War II, witnessed General Yamashita's surrender in the Philippines and the trials at Nuremberg, and flew to England and convinced General Eisenhower to run for President (and she was a Democrat!)

press this to hear the speechHEAR Jacqueline Cochran's speech
to the last WASP graduating class.

Jacqueline Cochran went higher and faster into the frontiers of aviation than any woman before, breaking through the glass ceiling and the sound barrier. She still holds more distance and speed records than any pilot living or dead, male or female.  That record will never be broken.I doubt if the word "can't" was ever in her vocabulary.  She never went to college--she never finished high school.   

She read, she listened,  she asked questions -- and she seldom if ever took no for an answer.  She believed in hard work, persistence and God...not necessarily in that order...and she believed airplanes couldn't tell the difference between a man and a woman--only a good pilot from a bad one. What drove her? What made her special?   There's no simple answer...but, she did leave a message for the next generation:

"...flex your mental muscles and get cracking under your own power.  Derive emotional satisfaction from a good try and then another and another and still another if the first ones fail.  In the case of an airplane, speed is determined by the outcome of the conflict between thrust of the power and drag of the plane. So it is with humans. 

If you will open up your power plants of vitality and energy, clean up your spark plugs of ambition and desires, and pour in the fuel of work and still more work, you will be likely to go places and do things.The formula for success has many components. There is never precisely the same mixture. A drop of luck can substitute for a dash of opportunity.  But in every well-blended recipe for success will be found, in addition to honesty and as main ingredients, determination and tenacity and a substantial portion of skill and experience which come with trying. There will also be found imagination and faith which will bring the other elements together as a potent whole.

This land of ours still has its Sawdust Roads and Tobacco Roads that I knew in my childhood. ... but I have seen most of the rest of the world...What we have here in the United States, good, bad, and mediocre taken into account, is the best the world has ever known.Let's not let it be pulled down -- either by carelessness, indifference or idleness."1

MORE on Jacqueline Cochran
with primary resources

Centennial of Flight--Jackie Cochran

Article on Jacqueline Cochran and the WASP

Jackie Cochran

The image is scanned from Jackie's autobiography,
"The Stars At Noon." 
It is a book filled with the
unbelievable adventures of an
extraordinary woman...

There will never again
be anyone quite like her...
cochran.gif (79808 bytes)

In 1997, the US Post office finally honored the greatest woman pilot who ever lived...with her own 50 stamp

1. from the Epilogue,  "THE STARS AT NOON" by Jacqueline Cochran.  Atlantic Monthly Press Book, Little, Brown and Company - Boston, 1954. 1998 Nancy Parrish.  All rights reserved.