The History Of Female Aviators

There Is A History Of Female Aviators!

You would not believe how many women there have been pioneering the skies. But as usual, there is only room for one to be remembered (Amelia Earhart), while men take over the space completely. As if women did not dream about flying? As If there were no female aviators. As if Amelia was not inspired by another woman? Yes, indeed!

Female Aviators

Lade Mary Heath, also known as “Lady Icarus”.

Her name was Mary Heath, a real empress of the heavens! How come you’ve never heard a word about her? In her times, she was one of the best-known in the world of dare devils. One of the best know women in the world, actually. Heath was

  • the first woman in Britain to gain a commercial pilot’s license,
  • the first to make a parachute jump, and
  • in 1928, she became the first pilot of any gender to fly an open-cockpit plane  across the vast African Continent from South Africa over Cairo and then – London. Alone! It took her three months, and that was 86 years ago!

Mary Heath was a walking scandal! Dressing in furs, smoking Turkish cigarettes, becoming the first British women’s javelin champion and marrying three times. Her second husband was 45 years her senior. And her third was a black man!

Female Aviators Flying Abreast Of Men

In reality, women came to the airborne experience more or less at the same pace as men. It is just that the story is told AS IF women came soooo much later.

Every time you say “the first woman,” it is like stating “late,” “very late,” or “too late,” and “not as good as men.” I’m using it too, and, it’s good to be aware.

Parachuting, For Instance

Female Aviators

Monsieur and Madame Garnerin

The first parachute jump was made in 1797 by French citizen André-Jacques Garnerin. The first woman to repeat the jump was his wife, Jeanne Geneviève Garnerin, in 1799. That was 216 years ago! But as history is written by men, you would think women started parachuting in the latter half of the 1900’s!

Actually, history is told as if women didn’t contribute with, or to, anything at all until then. And if we don’t tell the world this is not the case, history will continuously be rewritten to suit that misconception.  Women will continue to be displayed only as birth givers, food preparers, and caretakers. Nothing wrong with that, but it paints a faulty and narrow picture. Plus, it doesn’t provide role models for coming generations.

In this article and video I’m pointing in directions where you can find a plethora of adventuresses, women too brave for their own good. Many of them crashed to their death out of love for exploring the almost impossible. How far could female aviators spread their wings?

And Designing Airplanes

The first woman in the world to design an airplane was Lilian Todd. She started around 1906 and had a finished flying machine in 1910.

Todd was denied to make a flying test on Southfield Boulevard as “the charter does not in its present form contemplate any such use of the public street.”

Gotta love her audacity! 😀

In 2013, director and animator Kristina Yee created a short film entitled “Miss Todd.” The same year it won the Foreign Film Award Gold Medal at the 2013 Student Academy Awards

You can watch it online and buy it here.

Meet More Daring Women In This Video

Female Aviators

From top left: Janet Harmon Bragg, Teresa James, Jacqueline Cochran, Katherine Stinson, Melli Beese, Hazel Ying Lee, Willa Brown, Bessica Raiche, Blanche Stuart Scott, ”Pancho” Barnes, Elsa Andersson, Sabiha Gökçen, Hélène Dutrieu, Amy Johnson and Adrienne Bolland.

I don’t talk much about Amelia Earhart as she is the best known of the pioneers. There are lots more out there, so let’s give them some cred!

And read my previous article about Bessie Coleman. First African American to fly high with an international pilots license. Note: Of any gender!

Always focusing on the same people makes it look like there were not so many women out there, after all, but as you can see, that is simply not true.

Don’t you agree with me that we all gain from digging up these kinds of historic figures? If so, join me in spreading the word about and give your pledge at

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ps. Here is a movie about Swedish pilot Elsa Andersson. Well worth seeing and with a hint of possible lesbian love too!

3 thoughts on “The History Of Female Aviators

  1. A lot of research for sure Stella. I’ve been a pilot for over 30 years, civilian and military. I have to admit that I did not know about most of these women aviators, true pioneers, or their true place in history.Your articles/video are a great resource. You did a wonderful job exposing this history and showing the real benefits women have made from the beginning. Thank you.

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