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Harriet Quimby: The First Licensed Female Pilot of America

Harriet Quimby was the first licensed female pilot and she was the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Her career as a pilot did not last long but her passion as a female aviator was heroic. At a time when her contemporaries were to traveling in horse carts, Quimby was climbing into a cockpit, decked out in a satin flying suit.

Harriet Quimby became an enthusiast about flying in 1910 when she visited an air show at Belmont Park. She took flying lessons at Moisant School of Aviation at Hempstead, Long Island, in the spring of 1911. Quimby became the first woman to qualify for a license (number 37) from the Aero Club of America in August 1911, from the U.S. branch of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. She was the second licensed woman pilot in the world, following the baroness de la Roche of France.

Quimby was the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the English Channel, guiding her French Blériot monoplane from Dover, England, through the heavy overcast to Hardelot, France. On July 1, 1912, while piloting her Blériot over Dorchester Bay, Quimby lost control; she and a passenger both fell from the rolling craft and they both died in the accident.

#6 Harriet Quimby in front of the Bleriot when she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel

#11 Harriet designed this outfit, in rich purple, to eliminate the indignity of an exposed ankle while clambering aboard an aeroplane.

#13 Harriet Quimby, wearing her purple satin flying suit, pulls the Chauvière Intégrale propeller of the Blériot XI to start the air-cooled Anzani W3 (“fan” or “semi-radial”) three-cylinder engine.

#14 Harriet before the epic flight of 16 April 1912 at the Blériot Monument. (Courtesy of Giacinta Bradley Koontz)

#15 Harriet on the day of her historic flight next to Blériot plane. (Courtesy of Giacinta Bradley Koontz)

Written by Benjamin Grayson

Former Bouquet seller now making a go with blogging and graphic designing. I love creating & composing history articles and lists.

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