Jacqueline Auriol

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Jacqueline Auriol
02.03.69 1er vol de Concorde avec Jacqueline Auriol (1969) - 53Fi1884 (cropped).jpg
Born 5 November 1917 Edit this on Wikidata
Died 11 February 2000 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 82)

Jacqueline Auriol (5 November 1917, Challans, Vendée – 11 February 2000, Paris) was a French aviator who set several world speed records.[1][2]


I Live to Fly - Auriol's autobiography

Born as Jacqueline Marie-Thérèse Suzanne Douet in Challans, Vendée, the daughter of a wealthy shipbuilder, she graduated from the University of Nantes then she studied art at the École du Louvre in Paris.

In 1938, she married Paul Auriol, son of Vincent Auriol (who would later become President of France). During World War II, Jacqueline Auriol, worked against the German occupation of France by helping the French Resistance.

She took up flying in 1946, got her pilot's license in 1948 and became an accomplished stunt flier and test pilot. Jacqueline was severely injured in a crash of a SCAN 30 in which she was a passenger in 1949—many of the bones in her face were broken—and spent nearly three years in hospitals undergoing 33 reconstructive operations. To occupy her mind she studied algebra, trigonometry, aerodynamics, and other subjects necessary to obtain advanced pilot certification.

She earned a military pilot license in 1950 then qualified as one of the first female test pilots. She was among the first women to break the sound barrier and set five world speed records in the 1950s and 1960s.

On four occasions she was awarded the Harmon International Trophy by an American president in recognition of her aviation exploits. She once explained her passion for flying by saying: "I feel so happy when I'm flying. Perhaps it is the feeling of power, the pleasure of dominating a machine as beautiful as a Thoroughbred horse. Mingled with these basic joys is another less primitive feeling, that of a mission accomplished. Each time I set foot on an airfield, I sense with fresh excitement that this is where I belong."

Her life story was told in her 1970 autobiography I Live to Fly published in the French and English languages.

Jacqueline and her husband divorced in 1967 and remarried in 1987. They had two sons together. In 1983 she became a founding member of the French Académie de l'air et de l'espace.


Jacqueline Auriol set the following speed records:[3][4]

  • 12 May 1951 - Auriol set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale- (FAI-) ratified average speed of 818.18 km/h (508.39 mph)[3] flying a British-made Vampire over a 100-km (62.1-mile) closed circuit in France from Istres, outside Marseilles, to Avignon and back to claim the women's world air speed record from its previous holder, Jacqueline Cochran of the United States.
  • 21 December 1952 - Flying a Sud-Est Mistral (a French-built development of the Vampire with a Hispano-Suiza Nene engine), Auriol broke her own 1951 world speed record over a 100-km (62.1-mile) closed circuit by flying at 855.92 km/h (531.84 mph).[3] The new record was set over the same 100-km (62.1-mile) closed course as in 1951, from Istres to Avignon and back.
  • 31 May 1955 - Flying a Mystère IVN, Auriol broke the previous women's speed record over a 15/25-km (9.3/15.5-mile) straight course previously held by Jacqueline Cochrane with an FAI-ratified speed of 1,151 km/h (715.2 mph).[3]
  • 22 Jun 1962 - Flying a Dassault Mirage IIIC, Auriol achieved an FAI-ratified average speed of 1,850.2 km/h (1,149.7 mph)[3] over the 100-km (62.1-mile) closed circuit at Istres, to reclaim the women's world air speed record in that category from Jacqueline Cochran.
  • 14 Jun 1963 - Flying a Dassault Mirage IIIR, Auriol achieved an FAI-ratified average speed of 2,038.70 km/h (1,266.79 mph)[3] over a 100-km (62.1-mile) closed circuit at Istres. It was her final attempt to break the women's air speed record over that distance, and she broke a record Jacqueline Cochran had set over the distance in May 1963.

On 1 June 1964, Cochran broke Auriol′s June 1963 record, achieving an FAI-ratified average speed of 2,097.27 km/h (1,303.18 mph)[5] over a 100-km (62.1-mile) closed circuit in a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martin, Douglas (February 17, 2000). "Jacqueline Auriol, Top French Test Pilot, 82". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Trenner, Patricia (March 1, 2003). "10 Great Pilots". Air & Space Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "FAI Records". www.fai.org. Retrieved 2017-04-02.  Search for "Jacqueline Auriol" in the "Person, Record, Year, ID..?" field under "Record Search".
  4. ^ "Aviation History - Browse the History of Flight from 1909". www.flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  5. ^ "FAI Records". www.fai.org. Retrieved 2017-04-02.  Search for "Jacqueline Cochran" in the "Person, Record, Year, ID..?" field under "Record Search".
  6. ^ ORDRE NATIONAL DU MERITE Décret du 14 mai 1997 portant élévation à la dignité de grand'croix et de grand officier (in French), retrieved 2017-04-02 
  7. ^ Gathering of Eagles Program
  8. ^ "FR043.03". Universal Postal Union. Retrieved 2011-01-21. 

External links[edit]