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Aviator Louise Thaden and the Ninety-Nines

Thaden and her Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing airplane. Image from the Raytheon Corporation.On November 9, 1979, Louise Thaden, early aviation pioneer, died of a heart attack in High Point.

One of the first women to make flying her business, Thaden flew her first solo flight and received her pilot’s license in 1927. By 1928 she set the woman’s altitude record at 20,260 feet, and the next year she claimed the woman’s endurance record after flying for 22 hours, 3 minutes and 28 seconds. That same year she was the first woman to win the National Air Races.

She continued to set records until retiring in 1938 to spend more time with her family. That year Thaden published her autobiography, High, Wide and Frightened about her time in the early days of aviation.

In 1929, Thaden teamed up with Amelia Earhart and Ruth Nichols to found the Ninety-Nines, a group whose aim was to provide inspiration and fellowship to female pilots.

One of the great ladies of the Golden Age of Aviation, Thaden was born in Arkansas in 1905. She and her husband moved to High Point in 1956 and established Thaden Engineering, which was a company for developmental engineering in plastics. She remained active in local aviation unit her death.

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