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Harriet Quimby

Harriet Quimby

1875-1912

Harriet Quimby was born May 11, 1875 in Arcadia, Michigan. She was noted for her daring, courageous spirit and is a true pioneer of women in aviation.

Having already achieved fame as one of the first woman reporters on a major newspaper-The San Francisco Call-in 1901, and writing for such publications as The Dramatic Review, Overland Monthly, Good Housekeeping, it was in her position as drama critic for Leslie's Weekly that her attention turned toward aviation. On October 22, 1910 she attended the International Aviation Meet at Belmont Park, New York. Later, while making her rounds with the theater crowd, she met the winner of the meet's main event and asked him to teach her to fly.

Quimby earned her pilot's license-Federation Aeronautique Internationale No. 37-from the Aero Club of America on August 1, 1911. She was the first woman in the United States and the second in the world to be licensed.

On March 7, 1912 she set sail for France, planning to be the first woman to fly over the English Channel. Her accomplishment of this feat on Tuesday, April 16, 1912 did not receive worldwide headlines, as it was overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic the day before her flight.

Quimby was also the first woman pilot to write about aviation. Her articles included a series about how she learned to fly, the dangers of flying, and how to avoid them. She also included a detailed account of her Channel flight.

On July 1, 1912, Harriet Quimby died while preparing for an aviation meet. She was the first woman to be killed at an aviation meet and the fourth woman in the world to lose her life in an airplane.

Harriet has been honored by the placing of a State Historical Marker at the Branch County Airport, and on April 27, 1991, a Harriet Quimby fifty-cent airmail stamp as issued.

Harriet Quimby was enshrined on August 21, 1993 for her pioneering spirit and for courageously opening the door for the great women pilots who followed.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program