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Mary von Mach

Mary von Mach

1896-1980

Mary von Mach was a pioneer woman pilot of many accomplishments. She was issued Michigan's first women's pilots license, No. 4117, on October 11, 1928.

Her flying abilities were recognized by the Federation Aeronautique International, and she was presented an Aviator's Certificate, No. 7215 on August 9, 1929 signed by Orville Wright. Von Mach was the first woman to own and operate an airplane in the state. Mary flew in the first All Women's Cross Country Air Derby in August of 1929. She was the first woman to be accepted at the Parks Air College in St. Louis where she graduated in 1931; in the same year, she became the first woman to be awarded an air transport pilots license. She obtained her flight instructors rating in 1931. She was responsible for the final inspection of the Pratt-Whitney engines that powered the B-24 bombers.

Von Mach was honored in December of 1942 by the War Congress of American Industry for "all she did to help build America in the past and who now plays such a vital role in war production, her production achievements, safety and heroics."

In 1929, von Mach became a Charter member of the Ninety-Nines. She was one of eight women pilots that formed the Michigan chapter in 1934. She held many offices at state and national levels. In 1978, she received the coveted Bronze Star Award from the OX-5 Pioneers.

Von Mach was enshrined on December 17, 1987 into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame for her piloting abilities, for working to establish professionalism and safety standers, and for pioneering careers for women in aviation. In spite of all of von Mach's firsts, she was a quiet, unassuming person who opened the doors to aviation and created opportunities for the women of today. To this end, this award is most solemnly and respectfully dedicated.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program