Considering that the first machine-powered flight by humans occurred on December 17, 1903, with the Wright Brothers, women have a long and proven history in the aviation industry. Commencing with Baroness Raymonde de Laroche of France, who was the first woman in the world to solo in 1909 and the first woman in the world to earn her pilot’s license in March 1910, continuing with the American Bessica Raiche, who is given credit for being the first American woman to solo on September 16, 1910, in one of the aircraft she and her husband built in their living room and culminating with Harriett Quimby who was the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license in 1911, and the second woman in the world to do so, the “aviatrices” demonstrated exceptional courage, tenacity, and skills since the aviation’s inception which endures and flourishes in the current era.
The ladies of the air also made a remarkable history in the area of parachutes. A pioneer parachutist, Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick, started working with the stunt pilot Charles Broadwick at age 15 in 1908. Georgia “Tiny” made her first jump in 1908; in 1913, she became the first woman to jump from an aircraft, and in 1914 was the person who gave the first demonstrations of parachute jumping to the United States government. When she retired in 1922, she had completed 1,100 jumps.
Moreover, the ladies’ active role in aviation is even more ancient than this, starting in the 18th century. The first woman known to fly was Élisabeth Thible, a passenger in an untethered hot air balloon, which flew above Lyon, France, in 1784. Jeanne Labrosse became the first woman to fly solo in a balloon in 1798 in France and would become the first woman to parachute. Sophie Blanchard took her first balloon flight in 1804, was performing as a professional aeronaut by 1810, and was made emperor Napoleon’s chief of air service in 1811. Aida de Acosta, an American woman, became (probably) the first woman to pilot a motorized aircraft in June 1903 in Paris.
Although women have flown since 1798, nearly all of them were restricted to general aviation, e.g., private planes, or support jobs before the 1970s. However, women now have full access to military and commercial cockpits, the Space Shuttle, and aerospace technology. However, the aviation industry still has room for improvement as the women pilots in aviation account for only 9.02% of the total. Aviatrices came a long way, but the road is still at its inception. I encourage women all over the world to join the aviation industry, become and aviatrice and carry on the centuries old legacy!