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Vintage photos of the history's first female aviators, 1900-1930


Over the next few decades after the Wright Brothers' first flight, female aviators became increasingly common and attracted increasing amounts of attention, culminating with the flights of Amelia Earhart in the 1920s and 1930s.

With Earhart's death in 1937, female aviators became less prominent, but continued to contribute greatly to aviation, particularly as auxiliary pilots during World War II.

In 1784, Elizabeth Thibble became the first woman to fly as a passenger in a hot air balloon. More than a century later, in 1909, women again took to the air, this time in a heavier-than-air craft.

Another French woman, Alice Deroche (1889–1919), who referred to herself as a Baroness, although the validity of the title was questionable, became the world's first licensed female pilot in 1910.

Over the next few years, women were licensed to fly in Germany, Italy, and the United States, many of them apparently trying to prove that women were just as capable in the air as men.


The first American woman to fly solo was Blanche Scott (1890–1970), who was hired by the Curtiss Airplane Company to demonstrate the safety of their airplanes. For the next six years, Scott flew in aerial exhibitions, performing stunts in front of excited crowds.

Another woman, Bessie Coleman (1893–1926), attacked barriers of race as well as gender. Although she was not allowed to attend an American flight school because of her race, she eventually obtained her pilot's license in France, becoming the first black woman in the world to do so.

Returning to America after this feat, he opened a flight school in 1921. Unfortunately, he died in a plane crash five years later.

There were many other notable female pilots in the 1910s and 1920s, including Harriet Quimby (1884–1912; the first woman to cross the English Channel), Ruth Law (who set a non-stop distance record for both men and women) . ), and Katherine Stinson.

The most famous, of course, was Amelia Earhart. During World War II, the Soviets put women pilots into battle, mostly flying older bombers to attack German positions in Crimea.


Women pilots also faced similar hurdles, regardless of the country they flew in. All faced some degree of resistance from male pilots and, in many cases, airplane owners, their families, and the public.

In general, this resistance stems from a few fundamental reasons. Some believed that women were too weak or too slow and could not safely control aircraft operating at high altitudes and high speeds. Flying was considered "unfeminine" and women who wanted to fly were suspected of doing so.

Although the roles of women in the military are more limited than those of men, in World War II and the years that followed, women began to take on larger and more technical roles. In particular, women were allowed to enlist in the military and fly in supporting roles for the Allies.

For example, by ferrying planes from factory to airport and across Europe, female pilots freed men for combat missions.

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