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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Scope and Contents
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Related Materials

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
    Title: Helen Richey Personal Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10118
    Physical Description: 1 Cubic Feet 3 Archival Boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1909-1947
    Abstract: Helen Richey was the first female pilot to be hired to fly by a commercial scheduled passenger carrier on December 13, 1934 with Central Airlines.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item], [Filing Unit], [Series Title], [Subgroups], [Record Group Title and Number], [Repository “San Diego Air & Space Museum Library & Archives”]

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The materials in this Collection were donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains approximately one cubic foot of material in three boxes including correspondences, flight lesson diary, photos, newspaper clippings, flight charts, and ATA publications. The collection primarily covers the periods of 1934-1945.

    Biographical / Historical

    Helen Richey, born on November 12, 1909 in McKeesport, PA, began her flying career as a teenager out of high school. In 1929 she became the first licensed female pilot in Allegheny County. In August 1932, Richey and Frances Marsalis set a new women's endurance when the pair stayed aloft for almost ten days. In May 1934, Richey won the main race at the first National Air Meet for Women in Dayton.
    Richey was the first female pilot to be hired to fly by a commercial scheduled passenger carrier on December 13, 1934 with Central Airlines. Although she won the job after competing with eight men, the Airline Pilots Association and the Department of Commerce, in a case of gross sex discrimination, forced her out. She resigned in November 1935. Her resignation triggered a noisy battle over women's rights. Women were not to become airline pilots again until 1973.
    In 1936, Richey, with Amelia Earhart came in fifth place in the Bendix Trophy Race from New York City to Los Angeles, and, by doing so bested several male pilots. She was an air-marking pilot for the Bureau of Air Transport and set two world records for light planes. Later, she became the first woman to be licensed as a flight instructor by the CAA. Richey was a member of both the WASPs and the Ninety• Nines. She died at age 37 on January 7, 1947.

    Related Materials

    Women of Flight Special Collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Women Airforce Service Pilots
    All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race (ATWAR)
    Powder Puff Derby
    Women in aeronautics
    Royal Air Force
    Earhart, Amelia
    Richey, Helen