It was today in 1953 that Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier.

Though, of course, Cochran moved at high speed her whole career.

The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum says Cochran first took up flying as a way to promote a business she wanted to set up, starting her own cosmetics company in the 1930s.

But Cochran was no dabbler when it came to flying.

She was setting records and winning prestigious flying races in the 30s as well.

When the US joined World War II, Cochran was one of the leading voices calling for women pilots to serve the war effort.

She trained pilots to fly military aircraft and bring personnel to Europe, and led the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, which numbered over a thousand pilots.

After the war, she picked up right where she’d left off, including when she broke the sound barrier.

She had been coached by the first person to break the speed of sound, Chuck Yeager.

In 1964, at age 58, she flew Mach 2.

By the end of her life she’d done it all: speed records, altitude records, distance records.

No pilot had set more records in the air than Jacqueline Cochran.

Today in 1838, the birthday of Alexander Miles.

This Black inventor from Minnesota designed an elevator with automatic doors.

They protected elevator operators and passengers and are now, of course, standard features on elevators everywhere.

JACQUELINE COCHRAN (National Air and Space Museum)

Alexander Miles (National Inventors Hall of Fame)

Who keeps this show flying? Our Patreon backers

Photo: Smithsonian Institution via Flickr