Daring Dames: Ruth Jefford, Musical Pilot

Hello, everyone! Our intern, Sammie, noticed that there wasn’t enough information about women pilots being shown around PAM, so she decided to research and write a series of short blogs to give you a glimpse into the women who pioneered the field of aviation in Alaska.

Ruth Jefford has claim to several firsts in Alaskan aviation. She was the first woman in Alaska to earn a commercial pilot’s license, the first woman instructor at Merrill Field in Anchorage, and the first woman air taxi operator at Anchorage International Airport. She first moved to Anchorage in 1942, when her then husband Jim Hurst, her former flying instructor, was transferred there for his job with the Civil Aeronautics Administration. While there, she helped to found the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, in which she served as concert master for 38 years. She also played violin with the Anchorage Symphony Quartet as well as with her own quartet. She and Hurst started the International Air Taxi Service and ran it with her second husband, Jack Jefford until 1975. After that, the couple founded Valley Air Transport at Wasilla Airport. She is also a member of the OX5 Hall of Fame, for soloing in planes with the OX5 engine. 


Ruth Jefford learned to fly in this Arrow Sport in Nebraska in 1937. She got up at 4:00 A.M. and drove fifty miles to take lessons before 8:00 A.M., when her instructor taught army cadets. Photo by Jim Hurst. Photograph, caption, and information from Women Pilots of Alaska by Sandi Sumner (2005) and Heroes of the Horizon by Gerry Bruder (1991).

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