Westside : Pioneer Woman Aviator Honored


Pioneer aviator Bobbi Trout still remembers being enthralled when she saw her first airplane as a child in the early 1900s. She knew then she would one day fly.

Trout did not have long to wait. In 1927 she became only the fifth woman in the nation to receive a pilot’s license. She immediately began setting world records, flying experimental planes and becoming one of the country’s most influential women aviators.

On Thursday, 90-year-old Trout scored another landmark when she was named the first woman to receive the Aero Club of Southern California’s 17th annual Howard Hughes Memorial Award in a ceremony at the Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades.


In 1929, Trout set several solo endurance records, became the first woman to fly all night, and then, together with female pilot Elinor Smith, set the first in-flight refueling endurance record.

The pair flew for more than 42 hours--Trout having to lean out off the plane to catch bags of food, motor oil and a 25-foot rope attached to the gasoline hose lowered from the refueling plane.

But in the early days of flying, pilots constantly tried to beat each newly set record, and Trout soon found herself defending her title.

In 1931, Trout teamed with another pilot to set a second women’s air-fueling endurance record--attempting to stay in the air for 30 days. But a hole in one of the pistons sprayed oil through the cockpit and forced the pair down after a record-setting 123 hours.

The energetic Trout now heads Aviation Archives, a nonprofit corporation to preserve aviation history.

Receiving the award this week, Trout joins other famous recipients, including flying aces Chuck Yeager and James Doolittle, and pioneer aircraft designers John Northrop and Ben Rich.