women aviation history

5 Women Who Helped Revolutionize the Aviation Industry

Where would the world be without the amazing women that have helped shape history?

It was inevitable that incredible women would help write history and the history of the aviation industry is no exception. These women are pioneers of the aviation industry and paved the way for other future female aviators to follow their dreams.

1. Emma Lilian Todd (1865 – 1937)

Emma Lilian Todd was a self-taught inventor who loved machines.

Todd is credited as the first woman in the world to design airplanes. This airplane designing career began in 1906 or earlier. Todd also formed the Junior Aero Club to educate future aviators. She did want to fly her own plane that she built but unfortunately she was denied a permit. However, Todd’s plane was flown twenty feet with Didier Masson as the pilot.

Todd’s airplane designing career ended after Olivia Sage endorsed Todd to build a plane.

Check out this amazing video bringing Emma Todd’s story to animated life by Kristina Yee:

2. Thérèse Peltier (1873 – 1926)

Frenchwoman Thérèse Peltier is credited as the first woman to fly as a passenger in an airplane and later, the first woman ever to pilot an airplane.

Peltier became interested in aviation through her friendship with Leon Delagrange. It is also with Delagrange her aviation career ended. After Delagrange died in an airplane accident, Peltier left aviation forever.

3. Raymonde de Laroche (1882 – 1919)

Raymonde de Laroche was a French pilot and is credited as the first woman in the world to receive her pilot’s license. She began her aviation career in 1909 when she approached her friend Charles Voisin to teach her how to fly.

Voisin’s aircraft could only seat one so Laroche took the seat as Voison instructed her from the ground.

In 1910, Aero-Club of France issued Laroche her pilot’s license; license #36 of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (International Aeronautics Federation or F.A.I.).

4. Bessie Coleman (1892 – 1926)

Bessie Coleman was the first female African-American pilot.

She grew up in a time during racial prejudice and found it difficult to find someone to teach her how to fly, but Coleman didn’t let that stop her. Coleman headed to France to learn how to fly as the only minority student.

She was taught in a plane that was known to fail. This too didn’t stop her. It took her seven months but Coleman learned to fly and received her international pilot’s license in 1921, which she used to perform in airshows. It was in 1926, Coleman lost her life in an plane crash when she was practicing for an upcoming airshow performance.

5. Helen Richey (1909 – 1947)

The first female pilot hired by a commercial airline in the U.S. goes to Helen Richey. Richey had learned how to fly when she was 20 years old and by the time she obtained her pilot’s license, her father purchase her first plane. Central Airlines, which would later become part of American Airlines, made history by taking her on as the first female pilot to fly a civil plane.

Commercial flying wasn’t the only part of Richey’s flying career. She also attempted to set aviation records, including staying airborne for 10 days straight!

Without these women, the history of aviation may have played out very differently. Thanks to them, women have a permanent place in history as contributing what may be considered “milestones” in aviation and aerospace. Aeroflite is a women-owned aerospace distribution company. Please feel free to contact us at AeroFlite if you have any comments or questions, or call us at (714) 773-4251.

Comment below with your favorite female revolutionizers too!


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