Favorite Female Pilot

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Harriet Quimby

Born May 11th, 1875 in Michigan to William and Ursula Quimby.

In her teens she moved with her family to California in pursuit of a better life.

Quimby was inspired by Californian women stepping outside traditional societal roles.

She later became a staff writer for the San Francisco Dramatic Review and eventually gained fame as one of California’s premiere newspaperwomen.

In the early 1900’s, she moved to New York and became a regular contributor for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly and other popular New York publications.

She loved travel and was a great photographer.

She first became interested in aviation after writing a piece on a Japanese aeronaut and coverage of New York’s Belmont Air Meet.

In May 1911, Quimby convinced Leslie’s Illustrated to pay for her flying lessons in exchange of chronicles of her experiences for the magazine.

In August 1st of the same year Quimby became the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, earning the name, “bird girl.”

She became well known in the Aviation industry as a safe pilot, and wrote a detailed article on how to avoid flight problems.

This famous article helped establish the need for per-flight checklists.

Good Housekeeping published an article in September 1912 where Quimby stated that, “Flying is a fine, dignified sport for women…and there is no reason to be afraid so long as one is careful.”

Shortly after, she left for the Harvard-Boston Aviation Meet where she expected to set a new record.

Upon returning from a 20-minute preliminary flight the day before the meet, Quimby circled the aviation field and headed out over the water, when suddenly the airplane appeared to stop before nosediving at a high speed.

Despite her short aviation career, Quimby left behind a great legacy as a woman and as a pilot.