Enshrined November 12, 2011
Air race gold medalist, Mary (Dilda) Nolan, has earned celebrity status as the foremost female air-racer in the nation. She is also a prominent air show performer flying at EAA’s Air Venture in Oshkosh and Sun-N-Fun in Lakeland, among others. That’s in addition to a 10-year Air Force career and her full-time job as a pilot for FedEx. When Mary was in the first grade she knew she wanted a career in aviation. As a child she flew with her Father in his Cessna Cardinal around their ranch in New Mexico. After soloing at age 18 she earned her pilot’s license in just two-months. Enrolled in college at Oklahoma State University, she earned her wings and became a flight instructor and member of the flight team, the OSU Flying Aggies, where she earned an award as “Top Regional Pilot”. As a participant in a National Intercollegiate Flying Association competition she won “Top Woman Pilot”. Following college graduation, Mary Nolan joined the U.S. Air Force because she wanted to fly jets. After her initial training in T-37’s and supersonic T-38’s, at 24 years of age, she became an Aircraft Commander flying the C-9 “Nightingale”, the Air Force Medical Evacuation aircraft, and later traveled the world landing on every continent including Antarctica piloting the huge C-141 “Starlifter”. Mary left the Air Force in 1991 but continued as a civilian instructor on the C-141 simulator, then flew the McDonald-Douglas MD-80 for a scheduled charter company. When FedEx hired her in 1994, Mary began as a DC-10 simulator instructor and three years later became a FedEx “line pilot” in 1997. She has flown the Boeing 727, Douglas DC-10, MD-11 and is scheduled to upgrade to Captain on the Boeing 757. She also served in the Tennessee Air National Guard. Mary bought her first North American T-6 Texan renamed “Two of Hearts” in 1996 and ended up air racing at the world famous Reno Air Races where her record includes three Reno Gold Championships, two T-6 Gold wins and the Jet Classic championship flying an L-39 Albatross named “Heartless”.
To learn more, visit: www.tnairmuseum.com