Our Illuminating History: Mildred Doran, Alpha

It’s Women’s History Month and we’re spotlighting influential women in our Sorority’s history who demonstrated Illuminate competencies.

“Is there any reason why a woman can’t do anything a man can do? A woman should fly just as easily as a man.”

– Mildred

Few Alpha Sigma Taus have captured our imaginations as much as Mildred Doran, Alpha. She was a self-assured trailblazer – a female who aspired to be a pilot in an era where it was both rare and courageous. She became almost every bit as famous as Amelia Earhart. She exuded confidence – personally aware of her own strengths and weaknesses, with a rock-solid belief in her own ideas and abilities.

In 1927, she attempted to be the first woman to fly from California to Hawaii as part of the Dole Transpacific Air Race. She served as a backup pilot in an era where most women weren’t allowed to be passengers, much less pilots. Hers was one of eight planes to compete in the race and the only one with a woman on board. Sadly, hers was also one of two planes that disappeared into the ocean during the race – killing all seven on board including Mildred. Despite the largest Pacific search and rescue operation in history at that time, no trace of the planes or crews has ever been found.

Mildred died doing what she loved and had the confidence to pursue her dreams no matter what.

“Confidence is a big part of being an inspiring leader, which definitely describes Mildred,” says National President Tiffany K. Street, Delta Mu. “I have always admired Mildred’s courage to be herself. I frequently think of her example when I encounter a challenge in life – be it personal, professional, or as a Sorority leader.”

Fast facts:

Mildred proudly wore the Alpha Sigma Tau Badge on her pilot’s uniform. In fact, she was wearing Ada A. Norton’s Badge just next to her heart during her fateful, final flight.

She started her career as a schoolteacher but was inspired to fly after taking a plane ride during an airshow.

She was known as a skilled navigator among her male peers, who respectfully nicknamed her the Flying Schoolmarm.

Learn more about Mildred here.