Louise McPhetridge Thaden was born on November 12, 1905 in Bentonville, Arkansas. She was very famous during the golden years of aviation. She set many world performance records and became the first woman to win major flying events and awards. She also co-founded the Ninety-Nines along with Amelia Earhart, which is an international organization for female pilots which is still active today. Thaden didn't start out wanting to be an aviator. She first started out in college as a journalism major. She then switched to physical education, and then she finally left the college in her junior year. In 1927, Louise got a job with Travel Air Corporation as a salesperson. Soon after that, Thaden began to take flying lessons and soloed in 1927 to earn her pilot's certificate. She became only the fourth woman in the United States to get a transport pilot rating. Louise won the fist Women's Air Derby, a cross country race from Santa Monica, California, to Cleveland, Ohio. Thaden and her co-pilot won the 1936 Bendix Cup race, which was the first year that women were allowed to compete. As an outcome of this, Thaden received aviation's highest honor, the Harmon Trophy in 1936. Thaden said, "We had to prove that women were as good as pilots. In an era where some men didn't think a woman should drive a horse and buggy, much less drive an automobile, it was a job to prove that females could fly."
During her flying career, Louise Thaden set a few records. Her first being a world record of the women's altitude mark of 20,260 feet which she set on December 1, 1928. Not too soon after she set another record, except this time it being a women's endurance mark of 22 hours, 3 minutes, and 12 seconds on March 17, 1929. She also became the first woman to win a national air race on August 27.
When Thaden and Earhart created the Ninety-Nines, Earhart became the president and Thaden took on the roll of treasurer for 4 years and vice-president for 2 years. Thaden set an endurance record with Francis Marsalis of 196 hours. They made 78 refueling contacts and made a few live radio broadcasts to a national listening audience. She also set an east-to-west record of 14 hours and 54 minutes.
Thaden retired from full-time competition in 1938 to spend more time with her family. She published a book about her accomplishments in a book entitled High, Wide and Frightened. The Bentonville airport was named after Louise Thaden in 1951 and a national Staggerwing Museum was named after her in 1974. She passed on in High Point, N.C. on November 9, 1979.