Remembering Betty Skelton (1926–2011)

Betty Skelton Frankman (1926 – 2011)


The National Aviation Hall of Fame board of trustees, staff and members were deeply saddened to learn of enshrinee Betty Skelton Frankman’s passing on August 31, 2011.   Betty will forever be known as “The First Lady of Firsts,” having set 17 aviation and motorsports records among her many pioneering accomplishments.  She still holds more combined aircraft and automotive records than anyone in history, and was instrumental in paving the way for women to enjoy equal opportunities in aviation, sports and business.

In 1959, she was asked to undergo numerous physical and psychological tests given to the original Mercury 7 astronauts.  This experiment landed her on the cover of Look Magazine, but, although she would have loved the chance, she had no illusions that a woman would be selected for the Mercury program.  However, her formidable flying skills and vivacious personality impressed the Mercury 7 astronauts so much that they nicknamed her “7 ½.”

The NAHF was privileged to honor this aviation legend with enshrinement in July 2005.  We encourage you to learn more about her illustrious career and achievements by visiting Betty Skelton Frankman’s biography on this website and through links there to other sources.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame sends its thoughts and prayers to the Skelton Family.  Godspeed, Betty Skelton.