When Evelyn “Bobbi” Trout (1906 – 2003) saw her first airplane fly overhead, it was love at first sight. On New Year’s Day of 1928, Bobbi began her training at a flight school in Los Angeles in May of that year, she finished her training and was given licence number 2613.
Bobbi was the fifth woman to get her transport licence in the US. She set three women’s endurance records in 1929. After making the first endurance record on January 2, 1929 that lasted for 12 hours and 11 minutes, she beat Viola Gentry’s eight hour flight, but her record was not about to last for long. Only 29 days later on January 31, Elinor Smith beat her record by an hour. From then on, it was back and forth all that year trying to beat each other. February 10, 1929, Bobbi would fly again to beat Elinor’s time. During this flight, she extended the record by almost four hours making the mark now 17 hours and 24 minutes. This was also the first all-night flight by a woman. Unfortunately, Elinor came back and beat Bobbi again making the new record almost 26 hours.
They kept on battling each other until someone thought that they should go together on an endurance flight and refuel in midair. So, in November of 1929, Elinor Smith and Bobbi Trout decided to fly together and attempt to beat the endurance record set by two men in July 1929. On November 27, 1930, they were able to refuel three and a half times and set a new endurance record of 42 hours and 3 1/2 minutes. They became the first women pilots to refuel a plane in mid-air.
After this endeavor, Bobbi tried again on the refueling endurance record except this time going with Edna May. In January 1931, they did set a new record after going through rough weather. In this refueling endurance, they set many records. They were airborne for 122 hours & 50 minutes, covering 7, 370 miles at an average speed of sixty miles per hour, taking on 1,138 gallons of fuel and 34 gallons of oil, and received food and supplies during 22 contacts with the refueling ship.
Bobbi remained very active in aviation even after her piloting days were over. Along with Pancho Barnes, they formed the Women’s Air Reserve, W.A.R., which was developed to aid in disasters where the only access to the people who need medical attention was by plane. Because of her achievements, she has received several awards, such as the OX5 Pioneer Woman of the Year Award in 1976.