She Was Amelia Earhart’s Flight Instructor, And The First Woman To Have An Aviation Business

Karsten Smedal via Ames Historical Society - pictured above is Neta

There are so many historical figures that wouldn’t have achieved what they had without the talented teachers they learned from. 

For instance, many people learn the story of Amelia Earhart, the iconic aviation pioneer. But not enough people talk about Neta Snook, the first woman aviator to open her own aviation business and who tutored Amelia Earhart on aviation. 

Neta was born in 1896 in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Neta was interested in machines and mechanical things at a young age, learning all about automobiles and their inner workings from her father. 

When she was a teenager, her family moved to Iowa, and she attended Iowa State College. There, she studied mechanical drawing and learned more about engines and machinery repair. 

During her college years, Neta started applying to aviation schools but would be turned down because of her gender.

Finally, in 1917, she became the first woman accepted to the Davenport School of Aviation. She put in as many hours as possible, but her time at the school was cut short due to a terrible crash.

She then studied at the Curtiss-Wright Aviation School in Virginia. Although her time there was broken up due to World War I, she completed her training there and became a pilot.

Neta then bought herself a wrecked training plane from Canada and shipped it to Iowa so she could repair it and practice her flying skills.

Finally, after two years, she was able to fly it solo in 1920. Although her license didn’t allow it, Neta would fly sightseers and tourists around on her plane to make some money.

Karsten Smedal via Ames Historical Society – pictured above is Neta

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered to your inbox.

1 of 2