Evelyn Sharp, Nebraska’s teen airmail pilot

Evelyn Sharp wasn’t Nebraska’s first female pilot, but is remembered for all she accomplished during her brief life.

Sharp’s father owned a café in Ord and rented rooms. When Sharp was sixteen, one of the boarders was a man who had opened a local flying school. At one point it wasn’t going so well, and the man couldn’t pay his rent. He offered to teach young Evelyn how to fly.

Sharp learned quickly. She earned her commercial pilot’s license when she was eighteen, bought a plane, took up barnstorming, became one of the first female airmail pilots, and became a flight instructor—all by the time she was twenty.

During World War II Sharp rose to squadron commander in the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots), doing non-combat flying. In 1944 the fighter plane she was ferrying lost an engine on takeoff. Sharp was killed in the resulting crash, only twenty-four years old.

 

Photo: 1938 publicity photo for National Air Mail Week. History Nebraska RG2929-3-P. Read more about National Air Mail Week in Nebraska History Magazine (PDF).

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