Harriet Quimby


I'd heard about a bit about her before, but when I arrived at page 38 of today's Newsday and saw that beautiful face turned to the camera the name Harriet Quimby somehow came to life for the first time. It was an illustration for the paper's regular half-page feature, "IT HAPPENED ON LONG ISLAND". This morning it carried the headline, "1911: America's First Licensed Woman Pilot". The picture shows Quimby seated inside her Moisant monoplane*, probably the one on which she learned to fly.

Her life makes a terrific story, and while it wasn't to last very long that bright face still winks at us today.

I did a quick Google search to find more images of Quimby and this is the one which really inspired this post:


The shot may be a bit fuzzy but almost a hundred years after her death it shows that the woman who always wore her self-designed plum-colored, satin flying suit (the pant legs converted into a walking skirt) when she was anywhere near a plane, was much more than a pretty face.

Finally, a breathtaking image of Quimby and her 50-horsepower Moisant in flight, to suggest the thrill , the danger and, yes, the sometime beauty and gracefulness of air travel in 1912:


It appears that the paper has it wrong, describing the plane as a Bleriot XI; the Moisant was actually designed and built by the Moisant bothers, aviation pioneers along with their sister Matilde at Hempstead on Long Island, Newsday's backyard.

[the first image is from Newsday, the second from the Library of Congress, the third via Lance]

Good brief article. First I seen the pulling through the prop photo. My step grandmother was a cousin of Harriet's.