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The First American Female Pilot, Harriet Quimby

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An amazing woman with no fears and the skills to do what she wanted, to fly.

Harriet Quimby, Purple Pilot Outfit

Harriet Quimby, Purple Pilot Outfit

Pilot's License for Harriet, 1911

Pilot's License for Harriet, 1911

First American Female Pilot

Most of us have heard of the famous Amelia Earhart and her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. But, before Amelia, there were other famous female pilots who received licenses much earlier.

This is about Harriet Quimby, believed to have been born in 1875, Coldwater, Michigan. She would become the first American female to receive her pilot's license from the Aero Club, License #37, making her the "First Lady of the Air." And the public nicknamed her "China Doll" because of her petite frame and fair skin.

But the honor of the first woman in the world goes to Raymonde de Larouche, who received her license from Aero Club of France. Ramonde would later die in a plantecrash in France, 1919.

Raymonde LaRouche, 1909 First Female World Pilot

Raymonde LaRouche, 1909 First Female World Pilot

Harriet Quimby, Pilot

Harriet Quimby, Pilot

The Pioneer Pilot, Harriet Quimby

Harriet was independent and wanted to find a way to have a career rather than depend on a man. Although born in Michigan, the family moved to San Francisco, California, about 1900. She began a writing career with the San Francisco Review and contributed articles to the San Francisco Chronicle. In between, she was writing screenplays for the silent movies. In 1903, she moved to New York to write as a theater critic for Leslie's Illustrated Weekly.

One day she decided to attend the Belmont Park Aviation Tournament, and there she met John Moisant, the famous aviator who operated the Moisant Flight School, and his sister, Matilde. Harriet and Matilde became instant friends and enrolled in the flight school together. The only other flight school was the Wright Brothers Flight School, but they did not accept women. Harriet would be the first licensed American female pilot, and Matilde would be the second. And Harriet became loved by the crowds, and she dressed the part in her legendary purple satin flying outfit complete with a purple scarf.

Now Harriet could command a fee of $100. for each performance at flying shows. In April 1912, Harriet took off from Dover, England, to fly to Calais, France. She made the trip in 59 minutes and became the first female to fly the English Channel. It was, however, overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic.

In July 1912, she was in the third annual Boston Aviation Meet at Squantum, Massachusetts flying a Bleroit monoplane. In the plane with her was the event organizer, William Willard. as the plane was at 1000 feet, it suddenly pitched forward, and both were ejected, falling to their deaths before a crowd of 5000. At that time, seat belts were not required, and few planes had them.

Harriet loved living on the edge and although she had a short career in aviation she does hold the record as the first American female licensed pilot and the first to fly the English Channel. She definitely paved the way for future aviators. Harriet was buried in Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York. A cenotaph (an empty tomb) stands in her honor at the Valhalla Memorial Park, Burbank, Ca.

1991 U.S. Postal Service honored her with a .50 airmail stamp.

2004 She was admitted to the National Aviation Hall of Fame

2012 She was admitted to the Long Island Air and Space Hall of Fame

A Historical Marker has been placed in Coldwater, Michigan in her honor.


The U.S. Postal .50 airmail Stamp

The U.S. Postal .50 airmail Stamp

Awesome Wome Aviators

Awesome Wome Aviators

Comments

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on October 15, 2020:

done Rosina

Rosina S Khan on October 15, 2020:

I have a new article published, Fran. It is titled, "The Auspicious Finger Ring". Please read it and leave your valuable feedback. You can check out my profile page. User id: surovi99

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on October 09, 2020:

Thanks for your visit and comment. Yes, tragic ending but what a pioneer.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 08, 2020:

This is a nice account of the first woman pilot. Women have broken so many frontiers and deserve credit. A bit of a tragedy that she fell to her death, not a happy ending.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on October 08, 2020:

Thank you so much for reading. Love your comments. I will check your latest article. Having problems with my computer.

Rosina S Khan on October 08, 2020:

Fran, did you not get my comment? Here it is again:

Thank you, Fran, for this wonderful account of the Pioneer Pilot, Harriet Quimby who was good and skilled in what she loved. I am glad she rose to fame and had been honored. Great article.

I wrote this comment 17 hours ago. Looks like you didn't get it.

By the way, I have published a new article. Looks like you didn't get my message in another article of yours. Please check out my profile page. User id: surovi99

Can you give me your email address? This way it's not being fruitful and effective. You will delete it as soon as I say I get it.

Rosina S Khan on October 07, 2020:

Thank you, Fran, for this wonderful account of the Pioneer Pilot, Harriet Quimby who was good and skilled in what she loved. I am glad she rose to fame and had been honored. Great article.