J. Cochran Beechcraft D-17W Staggerwing
First Albuquerque Visit: 1937
The Beechcraft C-17L Staggerwing was the first aircraft produced by the Beech Aircraft Company of Wichita, Kansas. It was a gamble for Beech and the chief designer of the aircraft. Produced during the Great Depression, the high priced aircraft was designed as a high-speed business airplane. The plane was successful with 781 Beech 17s produced in eight different series. The aircraft was advanced for its time, and the staggered wing arrangement contributed to the design’s classic beauty and also improved the pilot’s visibility from the aircraft.
Jacqueline Cochran (May 11, 1906 – August 9, 1980) was an American pilot and business executive. She pioneered women’s aviation as one of the most prominent racing pilots of her generation. She set numerous records during her career and was the first woman to break the sound barrier on 18 May 1953. Cochran along with Nancy Love was the wartime head of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) (1943–1944), which employed about 1000 civilian American women in a non-combat role to ferry planes from factories to port cities. Cochran was later a sponsor of the Mercury 13 women astronaut program.
In 1937, Cochran once again entered the Bendix Trophy Race with her D-17W Staggerwing, R18562, #13. She took first place in the Women’s Division of The Bendix and third place overall flying from Los Angeles, California, to Cleveland, Ohio, in 10 hours an19 minutes with an average speed of 194.74 mph. She set two women’s speed records in her Beech D-17W Staggerwing in 1937.
Cochran overflew Albuquerque in her Staggerwing while flying in the 1937 Bendix race because of the improved extended fuel range of racing aircraft at that time.
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