Harriet Quimby and her Blériot XI. (Library of Congress)
Harriet Quimby, wearing her purple satin flying suit, pulls the Chauvière Intégrale propeller of the Blériot XI to start the air-cooled Anzani W3 (“fan” or “semi-radial”) three-cylinder engine.
Harriet on the day of her historic flight next to Blériot plane. (Courtesy of Giacinta Bradley Koontz)
Harriet Quimby in her flight suit.
Miss Harriet Quimby, 1911, (Leslie Jones Collection, Boston Public Library)
Harriet before the epic flight of 16 April 1912 at the Blériot Monument. (Courtesy of Giacinta Bradley Koontz)
Harriet Quimby and her Blériot XI.
Harriet Quimby, September 1910. (Edmunds Bond/The Boston Globe)
She was a modern woman in a not-so modern age. At a time when her contemporaries were swathed in petticoats and corsets, Harriet Quimby was climbing into a cockpit, decked out in a satin flying suit, waving energetically to the crowd. She was as bold and tenacious as she was beautiful, and she displayed an innate understanding of marketing and salesmanship, selling herself and the fledgling field of aviation to an enthusiastic public. Harriet Quimby is classified among the most famous American female aviators. Her career as a pilot did not last long but was undeniably heroic. She was the first American lady to become a licensed pilot and the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She was also a movie screenwriter. Even though she died very young, Harriet played a key influence upon the role of women in aviation.