Pioneering Pilot, Instructor, and Air Racer
Edna Gardner Whyte
Edna Gardner Whyte, born in Minnesota in 1902, was a pioneering pilot, air racer, and instructor. Whyte funded her early passion for flight as a registered nurse. She began flying in 1927 and served in the USN Nurse Corps from 1929-1935. After receiving her pilot’s license in 1931, she was quickly captured by the thrill of air racing. Throughout the next five decades she raced and instructed generations of new pilots. Whyte founded the New Orleans Air College and provided instrument training for military pilots in WWII. In 1969, she bought property in Roanoke, TX that would become Aero Valley Airport where she would live, fly and instruct for the rest of her life. Whyte earned over 125 air race trophies and amassed over 35,000 flying hours. She won the Women’s International Air Race in 1953, 1958, 1960 and 1961, received the Charles Lindbergh Lifetime Achievement award and the 1967 Woman of the Year award from the Women’s National Aeronautical Association, among others. A charter member of the Whirly-Girls and President of the Ninety-Nines from 1955-1957 Whyte was the first woman elected an honorary member of the Order of Daedalians, the national fraternity of military aviators.
“Don’t give up. Keep a passion in your life to the very last minute.” – Edna Gardner Whyte