THE STORY OF AN AVIATION PIONIEER
Jackie Cochran rose from a poverty-stricken childhood to become one of history’s most accomplished female aviators. Beginning work in a cotton mill at the age of six, Cochran had a series of jobs before answering her call to the air. She learned to fly in 1932 when she was 26 years old.
Jackie Cochran’s ability to invent and reinvent herself was, perhaps, a more compelling quality than her innate piloting skill or her legendary commanding personality. Born into abject poverty and raised by a detached and destitute foster family, Jackie Cochran refused to allow the bad experiences of her youth define her. Rather, she did her best to mold an identity that was both flexible and unforgettable.
She became an American pilot and business executive. She pioneered women's aviation as one of the most prominent racing pilots of her generation. She set numerous records and was the first woman to break the sound barrier on 18th May 1953. Cochran was the wartime head of the Women Airforce Service Pilots from 1943 to 1944, which employed about 1000 civilian American women in a non-combat role to ferry planes from factories to port cities.
You can discover her in the documentary Mercury 13. She is presented as a major figure in aviation and a great feminist. Mercury 13 is a program that meant to train 13 women as astronauts. This program hasn’t been welcomed by people. In fact, the program has been canceled only for misogynic reasons. People didn’t want to see women in space. However, after being excluded from the Mercury 13 program because of her advanced age, she did not want to support the other women of the program when it was threatened and criticized by the men in power. It was a surprising decision from Jacqueline Cochran.
Some thought it was revenge, others thought she was under pressure from the men around her, who threatened to end her career and her reputation. This can be seen as a selfish act, but Jacqueline Cochran is a complex character that has always put herself first. This is how she succeed. Partly because of this, the project was cancelled. The thirteen women in the program never became astronauts.
Years after, she confessed her regrets about it. She explains that she did not have the courage to support the other women in the Mercury 13 program. She would have preferred to support them, because she knows that her fight for women was not meant to be fought alone.
Jacqueline Cochran is an inspiring personality, as well by her exploits and by her mistakes, which make her human.
Image : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_Cochran#/media/Fichier:Jacqueline_Cochran_1943.jpg