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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Evelyn “Bobbi” Trout

Evelyn "Bobbi" Trout was just short of her twenty-second birthday when she started taking flying lessons at Burdett Fuller's School of Aviation in California in 1928. A few lessons later, her instructor told her to three-quarter turn at a low elevation, causing her to send the plane spinning out of control. The resulting crash -- which totaled the plane -- would have discouraged most folks from trying it again. But Bobbi Trout was not easily discouraged. So she received her pilot's certificate a few months later.

Over the next decade, Trout engaged with a number of other women pilots in an almost continual process of beating each other out of one record or another: being in the air the longest; going the furthest; taking the most risks; pushing the envelope, their planes, and themselves to the limit over and over. On one occasion, Trout talked Hollywood starlet Edna May Cooper into going up in a plane for nearly 123 hours straight, a feat that got Trout recognized by King Carol II of Romania who gave her a Royal Decree and the Aviation Cross, only awarded to two other pilots ever: Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.

Awards and recognition -- including a spot on the Women in Aviation Hall of Fame and the Howard Hughes Memorial Award for her lifetime contributions to aviation -- were common for Trout who never married, so she had plenty of time and energy to dedicate to her various career moves, in the air and on the ground.

Asked why she flew, Trout told a reporter, "Because I do it a lot better than I do other things." But according to a headline on one news story, she claimed she stayed in the air for seventeen hours once just to avoid washing the dishes. In-your-face women like to do what they like to do. Housework rarely makes the list.

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