“During [Stinson’s] training period [in 1912], her first flight alone was a memorable near-disaster, as she recalled it years later. She had barely gotten up when the motor stopped. She remembered thinking: ‘Here is Mr. Lillie [her trainer] down below, and he has the $250 [she gave him for lessons] and I have the plane in the air and not knowing how to get down.’
“… Showing unusual deftness, she landed just inside the circle on the field, for a precise landing, a neat performance for a beginner and, more important, both pilot and machine were uninjured. Remembering the incident, Katherine felt she couldn’t fail, because people were very helpful; they were ‘all boosting for you.’
“After three weeks of instruction, Katherine applied to take the test for FAI (Fédération Aéronatique Internationale) certification. She passed her tests on July 19, 1912, earning license No. 148, issued on July 24 by the Aero Club of America – the American representative of FAI – to become the fourth U.S. woman pilot. The cover of Aero and Hydro featured her as ‘the only feminine Wright pilot in the world.'”
– Before Amelia: Women Pilots in the Early Days of Aviation, by Eileen F. Lebow, 2002
From the wiki: “Katherine Stinson was the fourth woman in the US to earn a pilot’s license, which she did on July 24, 1912 in a model Wright B.
“On July 18, 1915, at Cicero Field in Chicago, Stinson became the first woman to perform a loop; she was also the first person of either gender to fly an airplane at night. She became known as the ‘Flying Schoolgirl’, flying exhibitions all over the country, even adding lights to her airplane and completing loops at night. She set many records, performed in Japan and China, and was the first woman sworn in by the Post Office as an air mail carrier.
“In 1916, the year Amelia Earhart graduated from high school, Stinson became the first woman to fly in the Orient. Fan clubs developed all over Japan to honor the ‘Air Queen’.
“When the United States became involved in World War I and the army asked for volunteer pilots, Stinson applied, but the military twice rejected her applications because she was a woman. Undaunted, she volunteered her services as an ambulance driver and was accepted. The combination of Europe’s cold climate and brutal wartime conditions proved, ironically, to be more injurious to her health than her career as a stunt pilot had been.
“When she returned from the war, she struggled to overcome tuberculosis by moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her recuperation called for a new, less frenetic life, so Stinson traded in aviation for training in architecture. At the age of eighty-six, the ‘world’s greatest woman pilot’ died in Santa Fe on July 8, 1977. She is buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery.”