On This Day 18 May

By TheBoldAge. Published 2020-05-18
Jacqueline Cochran - a formidable woman setting numerous records throughout her life.

1953 - Jacqueline Cochran breaks the sound barrier

Today we meet the formidable Jacqueline Cochran. She was born in 1906 in Pensacola, Florida and during her life set a number of aviation records. On this day, 18 May, in 1953 she was the first woman to break the sound barrier.


While living in New York a friend took her for a trip in their aircraft and it was shortly after that she started taking flying lessons; learning to fly in only 3 weeks. In 2 years she then obtained her commercial pilot's license.

In the 1930s she competed in several air races, including the MacRobertson race in 1934 and the Bendix race in 1937 where she was the only woman to compete. Another name you'll no doubt recognise is Amelia Earhart with whom Jacqueline worked to open the Bendix race to more women.

WWII was approaching and in September 1939 she proposed starting a women's flying division in the Army Air Forces to Eleanor Roosevelt. It was in 1941 that she was asked to gather the data on how many women pilots were in the US, their flying times, skills and other personal information. In 1942 she came to Britain with 25 other female pilots to join the ATA (Air Transport Command).

On returning to the US she lobbied for further flying opportunities and the WFTD (Women's Flying Training Detachment) was created and headed by Cochran. WFTD merged with WAFS (Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron) in August 1943 and was headed by Cochran.


On the 18th of May, 1953, she set a new 100km speed record of 1050.15km/h (625.5mph) using a Sabre 3. It was during this record that the Sabre went supersonic and Cochran breaking the sound barrier. She followed this up on the 3rd of June by setting a record of 1078km/h (670mph) on a 15km closed circuit.

This is not the only record that Jacqueline holds, and in fact she still holds more distance and speed records than any other pilot.

A short biography of Jacqueline can be viewed in the below YouTube video.

Some other events on this day

  • 1291 - Acre is reconquered and destroyed by the Mamluks after 100 years of Crusader control
  • 1648 - Margaret Jones is the first victim of the witch hunts that went from 1648 to 1693
  • 1756 - Seven Years' War begins; England declaring war on France
  • 1804 - Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor of France
  • 1940 - Brussels fell to the German army
  • 1944 - Allies take Monte Cassino
  • 1953 - Jacqueline Cochran is the first woman pilot to go faster than the speed of sound
  • 1974 - India tests atomic bomb in Rajasthan
  • 1980 - Mount St. Helens erupts in USA
  • 1993 - Los Angeles International Airport is closed while Bill Clinton gets a haircut on Air Force One
  • 2012 - Facebook held its IPO, raising $16 billion
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