With more and more women stepping up and taking charge, this International Women’s Day calls for a shoutout to the women who are pioneers of travel and tourism. These are women who set the right example, the ones who’ve paved the way for other sisters, and empowered them to follow their hearts’ calling. By Ritika Dixit
1. Beverly Bass
In one of her many inspiring statements, she said, “I’m a girl first, I just happen to be a girl pilot.” Thirty-three years ago, Beverly Bass wrote her name in the history of the aviation industry as the first woman captain of a commercial plane for American Airlines. Her inspiring journey began as she took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport in 1986, and made international headlines. Beverly’s career as a pilot spanned four decades and empowered many other women to become an active part of the flying industry. A Broadway Musical, Come From Away — based on her life and leadership skills — earned a well-deserved Tony nomination for the Best Musical. Still flying jets, Beverly Bass is also a founding member of the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, which is a programme that provides mentor-ship and career support to aspiring pilots.
In 1928, the north peak of Huascarán in Peru was renamed Cumbre Aña Peck in honour of Annie Smith Peck. Mountaineer and scholar, she was the first woman to set numerous mountain climbing records. Her ascent of the Citlaltépetl (Pico de Orizaba) volcano in Mexico, at a height of 18,406 feet, became the highest point in the Western Hemisphere to be attained by a woman. She even founded the American Alpine Club — a united community of competent climbers — in 1902. When not busy with her ascents, Annie would give lectures on the Chautauqua and other circuits. At the age of 82, after her last climb of Mount Madison in New Hampshire, Annie Smith Peck became an inspiration for women of all ages around the world.
3. Kay Cottee
189 days at sea and 24,000 nautical miles across three oceans, she conquered it all! On November 29, 1987, 33-year-old Kay Cottee set off on a solo sail around the world. Her companion in this historic achievement was the 37-foot yacht, Blackmores First Lady. Kay Cottee became an inspiration for female sailors when she became the first woman to sail unassisted, and non-stop around the globe. She single-handedly completed the circumnavigation of both the hemispheres. Having logged 22,100 miles (or 35,566km) at an average speed of 116.93 miles per day, her voyage was completed without any form of external aid, apart from radio contact. This voyage also set the record for being the greatest non-stop distance covered solo by a woman. In 2017, the 30th anniversary of her empowering solo voyage, Kay Cottee was inducted into the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame.
Anousheh Ansari is an important name behind the change in how NASA viewed visiting and using the space station for commercial and private interests. On September 18, 2006, Anousheh turned her childhood dream of space exploration to reality. That year, she became the first woman to visit the International Space Station as a privately funded citizen, and even travelled aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket as a trained and paying guest of the Russian Space Agency. She spent eight days at the space station performing a series of experiments concerning human physiology. Anousheh also answered a couple of questions on her blog while stationed at the International Space Station, thus becoming the first person to blog from space as well. Xprize CEO and Prodea founder, Anousheh Ansari took over 1,500 photos of the Earth in the hope of inspiring youngsters and women all over the world to never give up on their dreams.
At the helm of Seven Seas Splendor, she has broken many moulds. Serena Melani recently etched her name in the history by becoming the first female captain of a brand new cruise ship, the Seven Sea Splendor. Always standing out in the male-dominated cruise industry, Melani is also the first Italian female captain of a cruise ship, and the first female master captain of Regent Seven Seas. She lays emphasis on education and believes that one can never be over-educated for a job one loves doing, and is also hopeful for a change in the cruising industry.