Barbara Allen Rainey
|Barbara Ann Allen (Rainey)|
Rainey as a Lt. Junior Grade
August 20, 1948|
|Died||July 13, 1982
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
Barbara Ann Allen Rainey (August 20, 1948 - July 13, 1982) was the first female pilot in the U. S. armed forces. Rainey received her wings of gold as the first female to be designated a naval aviator in February 1974 and became the first Navy woman to qualify as a jet pilot. She attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. She was killed in an aircraft crash in 1982 while performing her duties as a flight instructor.
Early life and career
Allen was born at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland and was the daughter of a career Naval Officer. She was an outstanding athlete in high school and a member of the National Honor Society. Consistently on the dean's list at Long Beach City College, California, she later transferred to and graduated from Whittier College in California. She was commissioned in the United States Navy Reserve in ceremonies at U.S Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in December 1970, and was assigned to the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Virginia. She later served on the staff of the Supreme Allied Command, Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.
In early 1973, the Secretary of the Navy John W. Warner announced a test program to train female Naval Aviators. Seeking a greater challenge and wanting to following in the footsteps of her U.S. Marine Corps aviator brother, Bill, Allen applied to the program and was accepted into the U.S. Naval Flight Training School.
Allen and seven other women reported for flight training on March 2, 1973 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. She was the first of her class to win her Gold Wings and was designated the first female naval aviator in history in ceremonies at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, on February 22, 1974. She was assigned to fly C-1s in Alameda, California with a transport squadron and became the first jet qualified woman in the U. S. Navy flying the T-39.
Allen married John C. Rainey, whom she had met during her flight training. While pregnant with her first daughter, she transferred to the Naval Reserve in November 1977. She remained active in the Naval Reserves and while pregnant with her second daughter, qualified to fly the R6D (DC-6).
In 1981, with the Navy experiencing a shortage of flight instructors, she was accepted for recall to active duty as a flight instructor and was assigned to Training Squadron Three (VT-3) based at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, flying the T-34C Mentor. On July 13, 1982, Allen, along with her trainee Ensign Donald Bruce Knowlton were practicing touch-and-go landings at Middleton Field near Evergreen, Alabama, when the aircraft banked sharply, lost altitude, and crashed. Allen and Knowlton were both killed in the crash.
Uncertainty over the cause of the crash lead the pilots' surviving spouses to file a product liability suit against Beech Aircraft Corporation, portions of which would eventually be heard by the United States Supreme Court in Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey.
- Ebbert, Jean and Marie-Beth Hall (1999). Crossed Currents: Navy Women from WWI to Tailhook [Revised]. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's. ISBN 978-1-57488-193-6.
- Naughton, Russell (editor). "Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Ann Allen (Rainey) (1948-1982)". Aviation Pioneers : An Anthology. Hargrave. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
- "First Woman Designated Naval Aviator Dies in Plane Crash" (PDF). Naval Aviation News. October 1982. p. 48.
- Love, JOC Bill W. "Women in the Training Command" (PDF). U.S. Navy. Archived from the original on 7 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- "Barbara Allen Rainey". Arlington National Cemetery. ANC Website. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- 'Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey, 488 US 153' Supreme Court of United States, 1988. Retrieved on 27 November 2012.
- Helen F. Collins (July 1977). "Women in Naval Aviation: From Plane Captains to Pilots" (PDF). Naval Aviation News.
- Sandy Russell (February 1981). "High Flying Ladies" (PDF). Naval Aviation News.
- Grossnick, Roy A. (1997). United States Naval Aviation 1910–1995. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center. ISBN 0-945274-34-3.
- Holden, Henry M. with Captain Lori Griffith (1991). Ladybirds - The Untold Story of Women Pilots in America. Mt. Freedom, NJ: Black Hawk Publishing Co. ISBN 978-1-879630-11-6.