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…




Author: Judy Dressler

I'm an Aviation Fan, a Air Museum Rat, a MS flight Simulator Pilot from FS5 to FSX, and a flyer of 3d modelled and scripted planes in InWorldz, a virtual world where anyone's dreams can come true. My nickname there is "Flying Lady" for a reason :-)

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