Powder Puff Derby of 1929 by Gene Jessen
The True Story of the First Women's Cross–Country Air Race

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Synopsis

The unforgettable true story of the 1929 air race that legitimized female pilots.

In 1929, nineteen women set out from Santa Monica, California, in flimsy, propeller driven planes, with a mission-to be the first to cover the 2,759 mile course to Cleveland, Ohio. Dubbed "The Powder Puff Derby" by humorist Will Rogers, who covered the race, the competition was aggressive and dangerous.

A thrilling narrative, The Powder Puff Derby of 1929 tells the story of the first major female airplane race, whose contestants included Amelia Earhart, the most famous female pilot of her time. Many of the women flew in open cockpits, with no air controllers to help them and often only primitive airports to land on. Yet by facing the hazards with skill and determination, the racers thrilled the nation and pioneered a new future and respect for female aviators.

The Powder Puff Derby of 1929 tells the stories of these first female pilots, gutsy and colorful adventurers who flew in air circuses, set altitude and speed records and fought for the right to become part of the male-dominated world of aviation. The book also includes various artifacts of the groundbreaking race, including priceless, never-before-published black and white photos, as well as Air Force maps of the terrain over which the women flew.

An inspiring story of confidence and persistence, The Powder Puff Derby of 1929 captures a defining moment in the history of aviation and women's rights.
 

About Gene Jessen

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In the summer of 1961 while working her way through the University of Oklahoma on the faculty teaching flying, Gene Nora (pronounced Janora) participated in a female astronaut research program at the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque. Though Gene Nora was among the thirteen women (light-heartedly tagged the "Mercury 13") who passed the physical exams, further testing was cancelled. In 1962, she flew as a sales demonstration pilot for the Beech Aircraft factory in Wichita, Kansas. Initially, she flew one of the Three Musketeers, flying formation across forty-eight states in ninety days as a promotional event to introduce the new Beech Musketeer. The job evolved into additional flight ratings and flying the entire Beech line. She met her husband Bob at Beech, and they eventually migrated west to become a Beech dealer in Boise, Idaho, Gene Nora operating their flight school. Gene Nora has remained active in aviation, serving on the Boise Airport Commission; as President of the Ninety-Nines; on various community boards; participating in the founding of two aviation museums; racing the Bonanza, and, not incidentally, raising two children. The Jessens own an active fixed-base operation at the Boise airport, and, of course, they continue to fly.
 
Published March 1, 2002 by Sourcebooks. 320 pages
Genres: History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Powder Puff Derby of 1929

Publishers Weekly

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Jessen, an aviator and former president of the Ninety-Nines (an international women pilots' association), describes each day of the nine-day event and provides captivating short bios of the 19 flyers, including colorful "Pancho" Barnes, glamorous Ruth Elder and Amelia Earhart.

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