Jacqueline (Jackie) Cochran (1906-1980), was an American pilot who held more speed, distance, and altitude records than any other flyer during her career.
In 1935 Cochran became the first woman to enter the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race but had to drop out due to mechanical problems. In 1937 she finished third, and in 1938 she won the Bendix Trophy, flying a civilian version of the Seversky P-35 fighter aircraft. Below is a Marshall Islands stamp from 2000, showing a P-35 in battle action.
In the postwar races of 1946 and 1948 Cochran proved her ability at the long-range game when she took a second and a third place in her P-51 Mustang. The Mustang is among the many aircraft depicted on the 1997 USA Classic Aircraft stamp sheet. Also shown top right of the sheet is an F-86 Sabre.
In 1953, eager to make the transition to jet aircraft, Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, piloting an F-86 Sabre, and that year set world speed records over many distances. In 1964 she flew an aircraft faster than any woman had before, reaching 1,429 miles (2,300 km) per hour in an F-104G Super Star.
Cochran also appears on the stamp sheet below, issued by Cuba in 2011, which features famous female aviators from the past.
Via the video link below you can view a more detailed history of this extraordinary woman’s life.