Here is the final installment in this series on the mark left by women in the history of aviation, featuring four new profiles.
As you may have guessed, she is the sister of the famous Wright brothers, pioneers in aviation. Though lacking skills in design, construction and flying, she played a vital role in popularizing the Wright’s first flying machine. She joined her brothers in France as their spokeswoman and immediately won over the press with her endearing and extroverted personality. Later, she took on the financial responsibilities of the Wright Company and was awarded the Legion of Honor.
In 1909, she was recognized as the first woman in the world to design aircraft. Influenced by the planes she had observed in London, she began to draw mechanical and aviation objects. Her work attracted attention when she exhibited her first model airplane at Madison Square Garden. The philanthropist Olivia Sage was impressed by her work, and provided her with funding to build her own biplane. Emma Lilian Todd then founded the first Junior Flying Club to support training for future female pilots.
She achieved world renown when, in 1930, she became the first woman to fly solo between the UK and Australia. On board her Gipsy Moth, she left Croydon on May 5 and landed in Port Darwin on May 24 after flying 19,110 km. With her co-pilot Jack Humphreys, she continued to push the envelope. They were the first to fly from London to Moscow in a single day, setting a speed record between the UK and Japan.
Famous for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, her aerial performance left its mark on aviation. Her determination led her to pay for her flying lessons and her plane, the Canary, herself. She went on to set a series of records. In 1922, she reached an altitude of 4,300 m, a record for a female pilot at that time. In 1935, she successfully completed the very first solo flight from Hawaii to California. Her mysterious disappearance as she attempted a round-the-world tour made her a legend.
The list of exceptional women who have left their mark on the history of aviation is long. Most of them had to struggle in a man’s world to carve out a place for themselves. Take a look back on their journey in the book “Aviators at War – a fight against prejudice…”!