Mary Barr made history when she became the first woman to fly for the U.S. Forest Service in 1974, a time when few women were professional pilots.

Mary Barr (center) poses with her daughters Molly Barr (left) and Nevada Barr (right). Courtesy of Molly Barr.

She flew a tiny propeller airplane into wildfires across the American West, finding a safe path through the flames so larger tanker aircraft could follow in behind her and dump smothering chemicals on the blaze.

Her daughters Molly and Nevada came to StoryCorps to remember an adrenaline-loving aviator with a hidden side. 

Mary Barr in her U.S. Forest Service uniform. Courtesy of Molly Barr.

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Originally aired August 19, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.