Every March of the year, we celebrate National Women’s Month, highlighting women’s achievements and contributions to society, history, and culture.
In honor and recognition of this event, we share a few stories of the first women in aviation—who risked everything to fly when opportunities for women were harshly limited.
Here are five groundbreaking female pilots who took to the skies throughout history.
On September 16, 1910, Bessica made the first-ever solo flight by a woman in the United States. Her plane was wright-type made of bamboo and silk that she and her husband built in their living room.
In October 1910, she was honored with a gold medal inscribed ‘First Woman Aviator in America.’
Aside from her achievements, Raiche has many distinctions. She was a linguist, dentist, musician, painter, and physician. Raiche was also skilled in ‘unfeminine’ quests like driving automobiles, swimming, shooting, and wearing bloomers. This was why Bessica was also considered a “new” woman of the 20th century.
Raymonde Laroche was a Parisian stage actress who learned to fly from early aviation pioneer Charles Voisin on October 1909. She’s also known as la femme-oiseau or the bird woman.
On March 8, 1910, she became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license. She also received the 36th airplane pilot’s license given by the Aeroclub de France, the world’s first organization to issue pilot licenses.
However, during World War I, Raymonde volunteered to fly for the French military but was rejected due to her gender. In 1919, she set the record for the highest altitude a woman flew.
Harriet Quimby was a well-known journalist who became the first American woman to obtain a pilot’s license in 1911. She was also the first woman to fly across the English Channel, earning the nickname “America’s First Lady of the Air.”
Bessie Colemen was the first African American woman and first of Native American descent to earn a pilot’s license, which she received on June 15, 1921, from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. She was also the first American woman to hold an international pilot license.
She was famous for performing flying stunts, such as figure eights and loop-the-loops in flight. This gained her nicknames “Brave Bessie,” “Queen Bess,” and “The Only Race Aviatrix in the World.”
In December 1921, Amelia Earhart earned a National Aeronautics Association license. She then became the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 feet in 1922.
In 1932, Earhart became the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She’s also the second person (after Charles Lindbergh) to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Amelia also became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California in the United States in 1935.
However, she disappeared during a flight around the world in 1937. This occurrence became and still is an ongoing mystery with speculations.
During their time, women were limited because of the stereotypes that stated there were only particular skills they could do and particular jobs suitable only for women.
Now, these stories remind us that women are as capable as any man and can find fulfillment in any field.