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Taking to the Sky

In 1935, Cochran started her traveling cosmetics company, Wings to Beauty. She was known to reapply her lipstick, powder her face, and fix her hair before exiting the cockpit after a flight. She also developed a moisturizer for the dry skin she experienced after flying at high altitudes. Outside of her business, Cochran pursued other flight opportunities. In 1934, she entered the MacRobertson Air Race from London in England to Melbourne in Australia. Unfortunately, her Granville R-6H Q.E.D aircraft suffered mechanical problems and she was forced to land in Bucharest in Romania. 

Jackie Cochran's Granville R-6H Q.E.D being refueled during the MacRobertson Air Race.

In 1935, she attempted the Bendix Trophy Race from Los Angeles in California to Cleveland in Ohio, but suffered similar results with the Northrop Gamma 2G aircraft, when she encountered severe weather near the Grand Canyon and could not finish the race.

Jackie Cochran's Northrop Gamma racer used in 1935 Bendix race

She entered the Bendix Trophy Race again in 1937 as the only female participant. Although she did not win, she set several national and international speed records that year. 

Jackie Cochran with her 1937 Bendix racer Staggerwing.

Garwood Trophy awarded to Jacqueline Cochran in 1937 for Womens Speed Record, from the SDASM collection.

Flying a Beechcraft D17W Staggerwing aircraft, Cochran traveled 621.4 miles between the Union Air Terminal in Burbank and the Golden Gate Bridge in Oakland. At 203.89 miles per hour, she was able to complete the flight in about three hours. This set the new United States Women’s National Speed Record and earned her a trophy. 

Jackie Cochran's 1937 speed record trophy in the SDASM collection.

Two months later, Cochran flew four dashes over an 1,864 mile course at Detroit Wayne County Airport in Michigan in a Seversky SEV-1XP aircraft. Her average speed of 293.05 miles per hour became the new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Speed Record and was the fastest flight ever flown at the airport. 

 Jackie Cochran and the Seversky SEV-1XP (R18Y) 1937.

Three months later, Cochran flew a Seversky SEV-S1 aircraft from Floyd Bennett Field in New York to Florida. She averaged 278.13 miles per hour and completed the flight in about four hours. This set a National Speed Record between the two locations.

In 1938, Cochran entered the Bendix Trophy Race for a third time. Flying a modified Seversky P-35 aircraft, she completed the race in about eight hours, winning the Bendix trophy. 

Top: Cochran celebrates with Hugo Bendix (right).  Bottom: Jackie Cochran's flight Goggles from the SDASM collection, similar to those in the photo above.

A Bendix Trophy in the SDASM Collection, probably presented to to Jackie Cochran for winning the Women's Division in the 1937 race.

Cochran continued to set records in 1939. She set a National Women’s Altitude Record at 30,052 feet during an almost two-and-a-half-hour flight in a Beechcraft D17W Staggerwing aircraft over Palm Springs in California. 

Trophy presented to Jackie Cochran for setting the National Altitude Record for Women in 1939.

She also broke her own Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Speed Record when she flew a Seversky AP-7A round-trip from Burbank to San Mateo, averaging 305.93 miles per hour.

Jackie Cochran with the Seversky AP-7A, NX1384.

Around this time, World War II had begun, and Cochran’s attention turned to applying her aviation skills to the war effort. 

Next page in this exhibit.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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