Article: Flowing Velvet

  • 04-175M-055
    June, 1953, Aircraft and Airport

    “She had long known that slathering skins with heavy, old-fashioned creams and unguents produced nothing but an ugly greasy look. She then dedicated herself and her staff of chemists to developing a greaseless flowing beauty formula that would actually bring moisture to the skin, and keep it there. This formula is Flowing Velvet, a unique achievement in the history of cosmetics. Flowing Velvet cannot be duplicated, and it has never been imitated successfully.”

    Another thing that cannot be duplicated and never imitated successfully is the woman about whom this extract from a Flowing Velvet ad is speaking—Jacqueline Cochran, cosmetician, president of Jacqueline Cochran, Inc., Lieutenant-Colonel in the USAF Reserve, a one-time winner of the Bendix Trophy Race, high-speed pilot, and aviatrix extraordinary.

    On May 18, came the news that Miss Cochran (in private life the wife of financier Floyd B. Odlum), flying a Canadair Sabre 5 powered by an Avro Canada Orenda, had become the first woman to fly an aircraft in excess of Mach 1.0. In the same aircraft she had also established a new 100-kilometer closed course record of 652 mph. All the flights involved were made at Muroc Lake, California, and the speed runs timed by the National Aeronautic Association representatives of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

    The previous record of 635 mph for the 100-kilometer closed course was held by USAF Colonel Fred J. Ascani, who set the mark in a Sabre. The previous women’s jet speed record of 540 mph was held by Madame Jacqueline Auriol, flying a French-built Vampire.

    Last year Miss Cochran was hired by Canadair Limited as a “part-time flight consultant,” so that she would be entitled to fly aircraft built by Canadair, these naturally included the F-86 Sabre. At that time, Canadair denied that there was any intention of making a speed record attempt; the RCAF merely pointed out that if Miss Cochran made any record attempts, it would not be in one of the services aircraft. The fact that the flights were made in a Canadair Sabre is circumvented by the technicality that since the Sabre in question had not yet been accepted by the RCAF, it was not an RCAF machine.

    However, it would appear that if the aircraft is not an RCAF machine, it must be a civil aircraft and should carry a CF-“X” registration. The aircraft flown by Miss Cochran bore no markings, civil or military.

    Since setting the 100-kilometer closed course record, Miss Cochran has set new marks in two other categories, both while flying the Canadair Orenda-Sabre (actually the prototype Orenda-Sabre combination): On May 23, she set a new record of 590.273 mph for the 500-kilometre closed course; on June 3, she averaged 670 mph for a new 15-kilometre straight-away course record.


    This article originally appeared in the June, 1953 edition of Aircraft and Airport magazine.

    You can read more about the Canadair Sabre, including the Sabre in the museum’s collection at this link.

2 Responses and Counting...

  • tom murray

    I was born on the present site of Winnipeg’s Airport 90.8 years ago. I was lost in a corn field at the age of 3 and only found by the pilot of a Gypsy moth aircraft. I was lost the second time on the airport after I had returned from three years in the RCAF and had just finished working an afternoon shift at Air Canada. A blinding blizzard was forcing everyone to sleep in the hanger but I thought I could cut across the field to my home at the north end of Winchester Street. I soon became lost. Following the fence and knowing where the radar shack was, I took a bearing and found a light my father had burning for me after getting a worried call from the hanger. Hope one day to see your facilities. Tom Murray 41 yrs with Air Canada

  • Joanne

    Great story Tom! Thanks for sharing!

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