Edna Gardner Whyte

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Edna Gardner Whyte
Born(1902-11-03)November 3, 1902
Mankato, Minnesota
DiedFebruary 15, 1992(1992-02-15) (aged 89)
Known forNew Orleans Air College
Notable work
Rising Above It

Edna Gardner Whyte (November 3, 1902 – February 15, 1992) was an American aviator whose career as a pilot and instructor spanned more than four decades. She was also an air racer who won more than two dozen races.[1]


Edna Marvel Gardner was born in 1902 in Mankato, Minnesota. Her father died in a train accident when she was 8, she was raised by her mother. [2] She trained to become a registered nurse, earning her certification in 1924.[1]

She made her first solo flight in 1926, from Seattle, Washington, and received her pilot's license in 1928.[3] The following year, she joined the Navy Nurse Corps in Washington, D.C., and taught flying at several nearby airports.[1] She resigned from the Nurse Corps in 1935, preferring to spend her time flying and teaching flying.[1]

Beginning in 1930, she participated in over a hundred air races, winning more than two dozen of them and placing in another dozen. She won the Women's International Air Race four times (1953, 1958, 1960, and 1961). Her last win came in 1967, and her last race was in 1972.

She owned and ran the New Orleans Air College at Shusham Airport from 1935 to 1941.[1] During World War II, she trained hundreds of military pilots at Meacham Field and the Spartan School of Aviation.[1][4]

After marrying George M. Whyte, she operated Aero Enterprise Flight School with him in Fort Worth, Texas, until his death in 1970. She then opened Aero Valley Airport in nearby Roanoke, where she continued flight instruction.[1][4]

She received over 80 aviation awards, including the Charles Lindbergh Lifetime Achievement Award and the 1967 Aviation Woman of the Year award from the Women's National Aeronautical Association.[1] She was a charter member (#10) of the Whirly-Girls and the first woman to be an honorary member of the Daedalians, a worldwide fraternity of military pilots.[1] She served as president of the Ninety-Nines from 1955 to 1957.[1]

In 1991, at the age of 89, she published her autobiography, Rising Above It (coauthored with Ann Lewis Cooper). Whyte died the following year. Her papers are held by the University of North Texas.

Partial list of races won[edit]

  • 1930 Closed Course Pylon Race (Racine, Wisc.)
  • 1933 Kate Smith Trophy, National Air Pageant (Long Island, N.Y.)
  • 1934 Annette Gipson Trophy Race (Roosevelt Field, N.Y.
  • 1934 Men and Women Pylon Race (Baltimore, Md.)
  • 1937 Women's Alcazar Trophy Race (Miami, Fla.)
  • 1939 K.K. Culver Trophy Race (Miami, Fla.)
  • 1953 Women's International Air Race (Canada to Florida)
  • 1954 Skylady Derby Efficiency Race (Raton, N.M., to Kansas City, Mo.)
  • 1957 Dallas Doll Derby Efficiency Race (Dallas, Tx.)
  • 1958 Women's International Air Race (Canada to Grand Bahamas)
  • 1960 Women's International Air Race (Florida to El Salvador)
  • 1961 Women's International Air Race (Florida to Bahamas)
  • 1964 U.S.A. Rally, Men and Women (Winter Haven, Fla.)



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Buffington, H. Glenn. "Edna Gardner Whyte". The Vintage Airplane. October 1973, pp. 12–14, 16.
  2. ^ Welch, Rosanne (1998). Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space. ABC-CLIO. p. 244. ISBN 9780874369588.
  3. ^ "Obituary". New York Times. 20 February 1992. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b Gibson, Karen (2013). Women Aviators: 26 Stories of Pioneer Flights, Daring Missions, and Record-Setting Journeys. Chicago Review Press. pp. 72–78. ISBN 9781613745403.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]