On August 10, 1911, Lidia Zvereva became the first woman in Russia to hold a pilot licence and Russia became the fourth country in the world to count a licenced female pilot. In 1913, she became the world’s second woman to run an aircraft manufacturing plant and, one year later, the first woman to fly an aerobatic maneuver, the loop.
Russian women remained on the forefront of the air and space industry. Eugenie Shakhovskaya became the world’s first female military pilot (not in combat). Later, the WWII Night Witches became the world’s first female air combat unit. Two Night Witches, Lidya Litvyak and Katya Budanova are the only women in the world to hold the Ace Pilot designation. In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space.
Yet, in the 1970s, the Soviet Union published a list of jobs unavailable to women in order to protect women’s safety and reproductive health. Fighter pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians were among the banned occupations. The list remained in effect until recently.
3 years ago, the Russian government authorized a group of 15 women to enter fighter pilot training. The first graduate was ready to integrate the Air Force in June of this year.
Recently, the government slashed the number of banned occupations for women from 476 to 100. The first Russian female aircraft technicians to follow in the footsteps of their grand mothers will start working in March 2022.