Ruth Nichols
Guy Lochhead, 30/08/10
Founding member of the Ninety-Nines. After studying medicine, she became a hugely talented, well-rounded pilot of all forms of aircraft. The only woman to hold simultaneous aeroplane speed, altitude and distance records. She also worked for the Quaker Emergency Peace campaign for a while, headed emergency aid organisation Relief Wings, did loads of fundraising for UNICEF and was one of the first people considered for space flight. She committed suicide after years of suffering severe depression in 1960. I originally dismissed Nichols as being just a good pilot, but reading back on it now, and realising that her autobiography has (like so many other incredible women’s) fallen out of print, I’m moved by the extent of her charity work and her extraordinary ability in an aeroplane. I also like her attitude towards aging – she continued flying and breaking records well into her fifties. I’m going to somehow get a copy of her autobiography ‘Wings For Life’ and include that, and then I’ll try to get it reprinted, along with countless other incredible women’s lives.

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