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Margaret Ringenberg (1921–2008)

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Margaret Ringenberg, née Ray, was raised on a farm in rural Indiana. She became interested in flying as a child when she got a ride from a barnstorming pilot who had landed in a nearby field. Her original ambition was to be a flight attendant. Then she wondered who would keep the plane flying if the pilot were disabled, and took flying lessons to earn a private pilot's license. The outbreak of World War II created a need for female pilots, so she volunteered for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). WASP pilots ferried planes, conducted test flights, and performed target towing, often under difficult and dangerous conditions. After the war, she became a flight instructor, then a commercial pilot. In 1946, she married Morris Ringenberg, a banker, with whom she had two children. She began racing airplanes in the 1950s and also flew around the world in endurance events, including the Powder Puff Derby (later renamed the Air Race Classic), winning more than 150 trophies. She had logged more than 40,000 flying hours by 1994. She published an autobiography, Girls Can’t Be Pilots, in 1998. Tom Brokaw devoted a chapter to Margaret Ray Ringenberg in his book The Greatest Generation (2001).
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