Ladies Pioneers

Good Morning.  Our “dolorean” plane has just landed in 1909. On grass.  Yes 1909.  Told you they could be time turbulences.

Welcome to the era of aviation pioneers and our Great-grandmothers debuts in Aviation.  Many of them setting remarkable milestones.

I want to stress that there were many “Amelia’s” before Amelia Earhart, and many afterwards. Many with way less publicity. And for some major ones a to small place in History.

It’s rather difficult today to grasp fully the period in which they were born, educated, and went on to brake taboos and become role models. Leaving us with a fabulous testimony of what women can achieve to the equal of men. If not beat them at it.

One has only to read the eyes wide opening “Women in the Victorian era” to understand what they own mothers had lived thru and why they decided to change the image of women for ever.

From “The Angel in the House” to “The Angel in the Skies”.

There was indeed, in the last five years of the first decade in the 20th Century, no sport activity they saw as “reserved” for males they would not embrace, transform, and illuminate by their courage and determination.

When one looks at their individual stories, one striking commonality appears.  They all began to shine in sports.  Pushing from those they were allowed to practice as women, to sports and challenges way more risky and adventurous, even many men were not willing to risk into at those times.

Many started in swimming, mountaining, horse riding, cycling, ballooning, motorcycling, even boxing and car races. Going to planes next was only for those pushing the limits of women freedom the “logical” next step. Why not?

They did so at the right time, at the right places.

Aviation and aviation builders had already a huge need for marketing and a urge to wider their reach in customers.  And what no better image to convince public aviation was reachable to more than to show “fragile women” climbing onto a odd asssembly of wood and metal that would bounce on the ground, hesitate for a moment, and then take-off and fly with their first female pilots. To the public total awe and enthusiasm.

And plane builders did not care if those women came from a rich background or not (more than often not). They were making planes and competing in first air shows, such as the Grande Semaine d’Aviation (English: Grand Week of Aviation) held in Reims, France between 22–29 August 1909.

The Bleriot, Voisin, Farman, Latham, and others had a need for more pilots and “demonstrators”.

True. Some builders had to be “convinced”.  But they were rapidly when seeing the motivation of our Great-grandmothers. Even if for one of my compatriots it began by “braking wood”…

But I will not begin with Belgian at birth Hélène Dutrieux. But with Marie Marvingt, the first fliying nurse.

1909: Marie Marvingt – The Air Ambulances inventor.

1909: Elise Raymonde de la Roche

to be continued…

1910: Hélène Dutrieux

to be continued…

1911: Mathilde E. Moisant

to be continued…

1911: Harriet Quimby

to be continued…




Please proceed to runway

Engines started and rolling.

I have now defined and entered our “flight plan”.  It will take us back in time.  “Back to the future”.

It’s not that easy to speak about women in aviation history when so much as already been done and published about them. I don’t want to exactly redo here what I saw elsewhere. And not totally what I did (that is incomplete due to lack of space) in Harriet Quimby Air Museum in InWorldz.

Also any summary list of those women implies the risk to forget some remarkable ones.

So inspired by the periods I cover in my virtual air museum I decided to break it into time sections and add descriptions and stories of famous women aviators in context with those periods.

This will enable me to publish and also add as I come across their stories (I still discover more of them). And you will be able to visit, and revisit these periods at will. Those time periods will be:

  • 1900-1914 : The Pioneers and the Vision.
  • 1914-1918: Dark Days of Total War
  • 1919-1939: The Golden Age
  • 1939-1945: Progress from Desolation
  • 1946-1969: From Propellers to Jets and Space Age
  • 1969-2000: From Jumbos to Concorde and Shuttles

As time allows, I will also create a specific section on women in aerobatics. Some assumptions have to be broken, and clocks reset (grin) as Svetlana did beat Patty. But yes, both are awesome.

Will also add a “news” section to allow for today’s women aviators achievements, such as Tracey Curtis-Taylor who, in a vintage bi-plane (my fav PT17!), just remade the 1930 trip of Amy Johnson in her Gipsy Moth from UK to Australia. The daring, the explorers, are still with us.

So now let go see their Great- grandmothers. Quimby, Moisant, De La Roche, Dutrieu, Law, and others.

We have been clear for take-off. It reads “1910” on compass. Right this is not any ordinary compass, this is a target date setter as on the DeLorean….

We are rolling. Reaching 88 miles per hour….

Ready for Take-off?

Why this blog to begin with ?

I always was a fan and admirer of all that is linked to aviation, from planes to aviators and “aviatrix” as they were called in the last century “30’s”. I had relatives in aviation. One died at take-off due to a sheer wind on a routine flight to deliver a Cessna to a customer.  The other of despair and depression leading to a heart attack, when the “third seat” was suppressed in jets with the advent of the Jumbos that did not need a “flight engineer” aboard anymore. And after he failed the exams to next level from 707’s to 747’s despite hard work and study.

Because I have been, and still am, a virtual flyer.  For more than 10 years and 1.100+ hours on Microsoft Flight Simulator, from FS5 to FSx, and am today a virtual pilot in Virtual Worlds.  Finally learning “prim torturing” (building blocks) and 3d modelling to make my own “birds” from 2010 till today and fly them in InWorldz also. A grid where I can live and create my dreams.

Because on top of the fascination brought by pioneers pilots of all nationalities, and not just anglo-saxons, is my admiration and awe for the female pilots. Because their job was even tougher in ages where they were seen more in kitchens than in open cockpits.

Because I’m really tired of seeing Aviation History being told and biased by the American view of it as if they invented Aviation…  They did not. They invented the first air worthy vehicle with an explosion engine.  Otto was there before the Wrights (and deeply influenced their work). As others before Otto, paying often with their lives, did pave the way for all, in all countries.

And most of all because I’m fed-up (to stay polite) of seeing Amelia’s pic each time I open a website or blog on female aviators. As if the others, before her, and after her, did count less. She just had a better marketing manager (her husband) than the others (grin).

I deeply respect the Ninety Nines, passed and present (I even once had and lead a SL Ninety Nines Group on Second Life) but I have met to often to many people, man and women, who never heard of other female pilots that made history. Including Harriet Quimby or Helene Dutrieux.

Even of some males pilots.  Ever did ask to an American who was Jean Mermoz ? It is if he never existed. Right he did not write books like Saint Exupery did.  But he created “the line”.  From France to Argentina, crossing the South Atlantic and the Andes.

Or Jacqueline Oriol ? The French jet test pilot that equalled Jacqueline Cochrane many times.  In same decade.

Even saw once a blog saying the first women astronaut was American and met some who believed it. Sorry but first was a “Cosmonaut” and her name was Valentina. Yes Russian. Like it or not.

Idea of this blog came to me while looking at my female pilots hall of fame in the virtual Air Museum under construction in InWorldz, where 3d models of planes are on display by periods of the 20th Century.  The Century of Flight.

Visits of 3d virtual museums is still a rare activity as many people perceive virtual worlds (“grids”) as a “3D social network” and “fun” only (if not a much worse perception). Virtual Museums do not have a big success.  People there apparently hate to read.  While they do read forums, webistes, Tweeter, FaceBook, and …. Blogs.

This 3d museum of mine, named after and in honnor of Harriet Quimby, might close any month due to lack of visits vs cost to maintain it.  “It’s all pixels” I said lately to a friend. It might just poof with all it’s work.

So what I started in InWoldz, in the female pilots hall of fame, I will continue here.

What I started in InWoldz’s Harriet Quimby Air Museum to put back Aviation in context of ALL nationalities,  I will continue here.

As long as I have will for it, and health to type. As long as I will “fly and dream in my head”.

Welcome in the passenger seat of my first blog.  I’m in check list.

Will start radial engines soon. Please read security card in your seat folder. And fasten your seatbelt. There might be some turbulences along the way.

More to come from cockpit soon.