Harriet Quimby (May 11, 1875 – July 1, 1912) was an early American aviator and a movie screenwriter. In 1911, she was awarded a U.S. pilot’s certificate by the Aero Club of America, becoming the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States.
On April 16, 1912, Quimby took off from Dover, England, en route to Calais, France and made the flight in 59 minutes, landing about 25 miles (40 km) from Calais on a beach in Pas-de-Calais. She had become the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the English Channel.
Her accomplishment received little media attention, however, as the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15 (the day before) consumed the interest of the public and filled newspapers.
On July 1, 1912 Quimby flew in the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet at Squantum, Massachusetts. Quimby flew out to Boston Light in Boston Harbor at about 3000 feet, and then returned and circled the airfield.William Willard, the organizer of the event, was a passenger in her brand-new two-seat Bleriot monoplane. At an altitude of 1,500 feet (460 m) the aircraft unexpectedly pitched forward for reasons still unknown. Both Willard and Quimby were ejected from their seats and fell to their deaths, while the plane “glided down and lodged itself in the mud”
Although Quimby lived only to the age of thirty-seven, she had a major influence upon the role of women in aviation.
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