A snapshot biography of Jackie Cochran

Jackie Cochran Biography

Jackie Cochran was independent, persistent, she was adventurous and driven to achieve, and when she “set her mind to do something, she was a damned Sherman tank at full steam.” 

Born in 1906, Jackie took her first job in 1912 at the age of six, working twelve-hour days in a Georgia cotton mill, earning six cents an hour. From there, she moved on to cooking and cleaning and then to a beauty parlor, where she would eventually become one of the best hairdressers in New York City.  

Black and white photograph of Jackie Cochran, a pioneering female aviator, looking directly at the camera with a determined expression. She has short, curly hair and is wearing a light-colored blouse with a large, pointed collar. She is seated with her arms resting on her knees.
Jackie Cochran, circa 1940

In the early 1930s, Jackie’s aviation career took off after a friend introduced her to flying. She obtained her pilot’s license in just three weeks, and within a few years, Jackie rapidly gained fame and was setting speed records. 

During World War II, what first began with a letter from Jackie to Eleanor Roosevelt about a division in the Army Air Forces for female pilots, eventually led to creating the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Directed by Jackie, this civilian organization trained over a thousand pilots, who took part in testing and ferrying airplanes, towing targets, and simulating missions, amongst many responsibilities.

Color photograph of Jackie Cochran in military attire. She is wearing a dark blue uniform with pilot wings and military insignia on her chest. Her hair is styled in short waves, and she has a serious expression. The background is a plain light blue, emphasizing her as the focal point.
Jackie Cochran, circa 1943

Jackie’s wartime contributions earned her the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945, making her the first woman civilian to receive this high non-combat award from the U.S. government. After the war, the “Golden Girl,” as people called her, would go on to set more flying records, including becoming the first woman to break the sound barrier. When she passed away in 1980, Jackie held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot in history.


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Click here to read a snapshot biography of another aviator, Betty Skelton.

“A snapshot biography of Jackie Cochran” sources:

To cite:

“A snapshot biography of Jackie Cochran”. Published by Historical Snapshots.