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#167 Jackie Cochran (Aviation)
February 19th, 2021 | E167

What I learned from reading Jackie Cochran: An Autobiography by Jackie Cochran. 


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[4:37] At the time of her death on August 9, 1980, Jacqueline Cochran held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot, male or female, in aviation history. Her career spanned 40 years, from the Golden Age of the 1930s as a racing pilot, through the turbulent years of World War Il as founder and head of the Women's Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program, into the jet age, when she became the first female pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound. She was a 14-time winner of the Harmon trophy for the outstanding female pilot of the year and was accorded numerous other awards and honors in addition to the trophies she won with her flying skills. 

[6:15] Jackie was an irresistible force. Time and time again in the many, many interviews I was so kindly granted, the repeated theme was "Jackie just could not be stopped." And indeed, this driving, cussed determination is signally evident in Jackie's own writings. Her unremitting persistence is clear in everything she did, from regaining the doll of which she was robbed at the age of six to her need to be the world's top aviatrix. Generous, egotistical, penny-pinching, compassionate, sensitive, aggressive -indeed, an explosive study in contradictions—Jackie was consistent only in the overflowing energy with which she attacked the challenge of being alive. Always passionately convinced of any viewpoint she happened to hold (nothing Jackie ever did was by halves), she raced through life, making lifelong friends and unforgetting enemies, surely breaking all records in the sheer volume of her living on this earth—as she did in the air. 

[8:07] To live without risk for me would have been tantamount to death. 

[14:16] Whenever I turned on a light, I'd think of how my foster family had been able to sit back and sit around that goddamn mojo lamp. Not me

[16:39] I always knew I was different from the others

[24:02] "What are you going to be when you grow up, Jackie?" they'd ask me. I never wavered in my response. "I'm going to be rich," I'd say, knowing even then that they thought I was silly or crazed. "I'll wear fine clothes, own my own automobile, and have adventures all over the world." They'd laugh. I was certain that's where I was going, I felt no embarrassment about my big dreams. No dreams, no future. They could laugh, but most of my mill friends wanted as little from life as they were destined to get. 

[26:51] To get the best performance, to do better than anyone has ever done before, you've got to take chances. 

[30:21] You almost had to have been there to know what such a range of existences did for me. Because of where I came from and then where I went, I ended up understanding intimately one very sustaining line of life: I could never have so little that I hadn't had less. It took away my fear. It pushed me harder than I might ever have pushed myself otherwise. The poverty provided me with a kind of cocky confidence and made me relatively happy with what I had at any given moment. 

[42:05] Jackie always felt that there was nobody better than she was. She was equal to anybody and had as much confidence as anybody. That's why she was able to accomplish so much. If somebody else can do it, so can I. That was her theory, her motto. 

[45:16] She could be ruthless when she wanted to pursue something, and she'd go at her goal with an intensity that wouldn't stop.


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