Bobbi Trout

Evelyn "Bobbi" Trout (January 7, 1906January 24, 2003) was an early American aviator, notable for her pioneering flying activities. Trout began her aviation career at the age of 16; however, her first solo flight and solo certificate was only given on April 30, 1928.[1] In the spring of 1928, Trout’s mother bought her an International K-6 biplane. Trout received her pilot's identification card from the United States Department of Commerce on September 1, 1928.[2] She was the second woman to break the non-refueling endurance record for women when she flew 12 hours straight from California in 1929.[3] The record was previously held by Viola Gentry and was the first record where Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) rules of the endurance record were revised stating endurance records had to be broken by a full hour.[4] Trout also participated in the Women's Air Derby of 1929, which was dubbed the Powder Puff Derby. In 2001, she was recognized as the only living participant in the first Women's Air Derby of 1929.[5] Evelyn got her nickname “Bobbi” when she copied the hairstyle of 1928 actress Irene Castle which was a short “Bob” haircut.[6][7]

Bobbi Trout
Portrait of "Bobbi" Trout
Born(1906-01-07)January 7, 1906
DiedJanuary 24, 2003(2003-01-24) (aged 97)
Known forFirst woman to set the first non-refueling endurance record for women
Aviation career
Full nameEvelyn Trout
First flightDecember 27, 1922
Curtiss JN-4
Famous flightsNon-refueling endurance record for women (1929), Powder Puff Derby
Flight licenseSeptember 1, 1928

Early life

Bobbi Trout was born on January 7, 1906 to Lola Trout and George Trout in Greenup, Illinois. One afternoon in 1918, Trout heard an aeroplane fly overhead. This incident started her interest in the field of aviation. Trout moved from Illinois to California with her family in 1920, when they purchased a service station. One day while tending the family business, Trout told her dreams to one of their patrons, W.E. Thomas, who coincidentally owned a Curtiss JN-4. Thomas asked Trout if she wanted a ride on the aircraft, which she did on December 27, 1922, taking off from Rogers Airport located in west Los Angeles.[1][6] Trout saved approximately $2,500 which she used to enter Burdett Fuller’s flying school (the Burdett Airlines, Inc., School of Aviation) on January 1, 1928. In one of her flight lessons, she was instructed by a young pilot to three-quarter turn at low altitude, which resulted in the biplane spinning out of control. The resulting crash wrecked the plane completely. This accident did not deter Trout from flying, and she completed her first solo flight on April 30, 1928 and received her solo certificate.[1]

Aviation career

After getting her license, Trout flew a Golden Eagle at the Metropolitan Airport in Los Angeles as an official dedication on December 14, 1928. Trout followed this up on January 2, 1929, flying from the same airport for 12 hours 11 minutes, shattering the previous record, held by Viola Gentry, by more than 4 hours. This record was short lived, as aviator Elinor Smith broke the record once again on January 30, 1929.[8] Smith flew 13 and a half hours straight from Mitchel Field using an open cockpit Bruner Winkle biplane.[9] Determined to take back the record, Trout flew from Mines Field on February 10, 1929, returning this time after more than 17 hours. This flight also broke the record for the first all-night flight by a woman as well as the new women's solo endurance record.[6][7] In the same year on June 16, Trout flew a 90 horse power Golden Eagle Chief to an altitude of 15,200 feet breaking the light class aircraft altitude record.[1][6][7] Modifying the same aircraft to use a 100 horse power engine, Trout flew from Clover Field in Santa Monica, California to the first Women's Transcontinental Air Derby together with other women aviators including Amelia Earhart.[6] During the 8 day course, they experienced difficulties navigating through the road maps, Trout, Earhart, Gentry and the other ladies managed to communicate under such circumstances this led to the development of the Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots.[1][6][7]

In order to get more sponsorship, Trout asked starlet Edna Mae Cooper if she wanted to go with her to attempt another endurance run. They first attempted the flight on January 1, 1931 but due to technical problems they had to abort the flight. At their next attempt, they were successful in flying straight for 122 hours and 50 minutes, only to end the run on January 9, 1931 due to the spitting off fuel. This was another record broken by Trout, and was later recognized by King Carol II of Romania, who representative gave her the Royal Decree and the aviation cross for pilots who made record flights, a distinction only given to two other pilots - Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.[1]

Later life

Trout celebrated her 80th birthday while being interviewed inside a helicopter over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California on January 7, 1986. On May of that same year she was honored during the Gathering of Eagles Program at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1999, she was also recognized as the only living participant from the first Women's Air Derby of 1929. Trout retired to San Diego, California and suffered a fatal heart attack on January 24, 2003. She never married and is survived by her sister-in-law Hazel Trout and her nephew Brook Trout.[10][11]


  1. Warren K. Deem , Evelyn Trout Biography, 1999. Accessed online 8 March 2010.
  2. "Bobbi Trout". Women Aviators. Archived from the original on 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
  3. Smith 1981, p. 78
  4. Smith 1981, p. 79
  5. "Biographical Information". Bobbi Trout Website. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
  6. Di Freeze "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-03-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Remembering Bobbi Evelyn Trout, March 2003. Accessed online 08 March 2010
  7. Joe Godfrey , “Profile, Bobbi Trout”, October 27, 1999. Accessed online 08 March 2010
  8. Phyllis R. Moses, The Amazing Aviatrix Elinor Smith, Woman Pilot, March 30, 2008. Accessed online 15 December 2008.
  9. Smith 1981, pp. 80–86
  10. "Celebrity Death Date by First Name". UGO Film & Television. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
  11. "Bobbi met her Pilot face to face - January 24, 2003". Bobbi Trout/Aviatrix Enterprises. Retrieved 2010-03-08.

Further reading

  • Gibson, Karen Bush (2013). Women aviators: 26 stories of pioneer flights, daring missions, and record-setting journeys (1st ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613745434.
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