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Archives at The Museum of Flight

O'Neill, Norah, 1949-2017



  • Existence: 1949-2017

Biographical Note: Norah O'Neill

Norah Ellen O'Neill was born on August 23, 1949 to Jack and Bertha Moore O'Neill in Seattle, Washington. She learned to fly in 1973 and embarked on a thirty-five year aviation career.

O'Neill was an aviation pioneer who garnered many firsts starting in 1974 when she was the first woman pilot hired by Alaska Central Air. In 1976 O'Neill became the first woman pilot hired for the Flying Tigers, a commercial cargo airline. In 1977 she was the first woman in the world to pilot the Douglas DC-8 and in August 1980 the first to fly passengers on a Boeing 747. O'Neill also was the first woman pilot to land in Korea, Japan, the Phillipines, Malayasia, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong.

O'Neill was active in her professional field as a mentor and a lecturer. She was also an active member of the Ninety-Nines (99s), Women in Aviation, Mensa, the Airline Pilots Association, and the Flying Tigers Association. Additionally, she was one of the founding members of the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, serving as vice-president for two years and as historian for twenty years.

Upon her retirement in 2005, O'Neill wrote her memoir, Flying Tigress and spent time with her family. On September 22, 2017, O'Neill passed away after an extended battle with cancer.

Sources and further reading:

Biography derived from collection materials and obituary published in the Seattle Times on October 6 or 7th, 2017.

O'Neill, Norah. Flying Tigress: a memoir. Seattle, WA: Ascending Journey, 2005.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Biographical Information Files - O

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with O: Oberth, Hermann [Rocketry and astronautics pioneer] Biographical sketchObituary, Seattle Times, December 30, 1989Photocopy of photograph O'Callaghan, Claud V. [General traffic manager, Varney Air Lines] "Varney Advertising Proves Profitable in Building Air Mail Volume," Air Transportation, September 1, 1928 ...

Norah O'Neill Papers

Identifier: 2006-03-03
Abstract Norah Ellen O'Neill (1949-2017), from Seattle, Washington, was a commercial pilot and an aviation pioneer. The collection contains a scrapbook, book reviews, newsletters and serials, photographs, pilot log books, and correspondence related to her flight career and personal life.

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