Heath, Sophia (1896–1936)

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Heath, Sophia (1896–1936)

American aviator and sports administrator. Born in 1896; died in 1936.

Sophia Heath conquered incredible odds to pursue a career in aviation, and she also helped pave the way for women in the Olympics. In 1919, overcoming the International Commission for Air Navigation's ban on women, Heath qualified in all the medical and aptitude tests to become the first female airline pilot hired by the Royal Dutch Airline. In addition to her flying duties, Heath devoted herself to improving air safety and reliability. During her career, she was the first woman to fly solo from South Africa to England, and also set a record by taking off and landing at 50 different airfields (and 17 "likely landing fields") in England in a single day, with only six refuelings.

In sports, Heath founded the Women's Amateur Athletic Association in 1922. It was largely through her efforts that in 1928, the Olympic Committee finally allowed women athletes to participate in Olympic events. Heath suffered serious injury in a plane crash and died in 1936.

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Heath, Sophia (1896–1936)

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