Harriet Quimby from Michigan, was the first American woman to fly across the English Channel on today’s date in history: April 16, 1912. However, her feat received little media attention because of the tragic sinking of the Titanic the day before. However, Quimby remained a role model for female aviators everywhere.
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Quimby began her career as a journalist. In 1903, she became a theater critic for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, a New York news magazine that often took a patriotic stance. Norman Rockwell would later become one of its illustrators.
Seven years later, Quimby attended the Belmont Park International Aviation Tournament on Long Island. There, she met John Moisant, a flight school operator, and his sister, Matilde. Quimby began taking flying lessons on their monoplane, whose wings were thin and could twist under aerodynamic loads.
On August 1, 1911, Quimby became the first U.S. woman to earn her pilot’s license and Matilde Moisant became the second.
On April 16, 1912, Quimby took off in a monoplane from Dover, England, across the English Channel and landed about 25 miles from Calais, France. She made the flight in only 59 minutes, but received little media attention because of the Titanic disaster.
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