Colanthe “Florence” Jones Murphy
Women’s History Month
Colanthe “Florence” Jones Murphy, was a native Nevadan, aviator and real estate pioneer. She was the first Nevada woman to receive a commercial pilot’s license and the first woman in the United States to serve as a vice president of a regularly scheduled airline. She is considered one of “The First 100 Persons Who Shaped Southern Nevada”.
Florence spent her childhood in Winnemucca. She had five brothers and at a young age declared that she could do anything they could do. In 1936, she moved to Las Vegas with her husband and two years later, they both earned their private pilot’s licenses. Florence, along with her husband and friend Bud Barrett built Sky Haven Airfield, today known as North Las Vegas Airport. They celebrated their grand opening, not aware that Pearl Harbor was being bombed, immediately after which, both men had to leave to train pilots for the war. Florence remained behind to run the airport.
In 1945 she joined Bonanza Airlines, which by the end of the decade was a commercial airline with Reno-to-Las Vegas flights. From 1946-1958 she served as vice president of the company. She was the first woman in America to hold that position. Florence has been quoted as “a pioneer in so many areas of aviation — she broke down so many barriers for women.”