Edna Gardner Whyte
Business and Finance
Edna Gardner Whyte of Roanoke was a pioneer in aviation. She became a licensed pilot in 1928 when few people were flying. She taught more than 5,000 student pilots, including military pilots in World War II, and during her career she built two airports, the second after age 70, without using federal funds.
In 1984 she was inducted into the Air Space Hall of Fame for her lifetime contributions to aviation.
Between 1929 and 1935 Mrs. Whyte served as a U.S. Navy nurse, but she resigned from the Navy Nurse Corps to fly full time. She started and operated the New Orleans Air College, and in 1941, when World War II started, she sold her airport to the U.S. Navy and began training military pilots. She later owned and was chief pilot of the Aero Valley Flight School.
Mrs. Whyte served as president of the 99s, an international organization of more than 6,000 licensed women pilots. She won 127 trophies in cross-country air racing, aerobatic competition and other flight contests.