I am just reading a biography of Jean Batten, one of the famous female world aviators of the early thirties and fascinating it is too, but it got me thinking about the pioneers in the era of my second novel, Ancasta (out very soon.) Although I have no women flying in my novel, I do have women whose roles in life change without recognition, due to their personal circumstances and also the aftermath of World War One.
Thus I was excited to discover Harriet Quimby, the first woman to fly over the English Channel, who did so as early as April 2012 and, since her birthday was in May, I think a blog to celebrate her life is appropriate.
An Amercian and already a screen writer of silent movies, she passed her pilot’s test in August 1911 in the USA. The Wiki biography of her is brief, but it does say that she gained little media attention for her achievement, due to the devastating news of the sinking of the Titanic at the same time. Taking only 59minutes for the journey from Dover to Calais, I feel her achievement is all the more remarkable since it was a matter of only eight months after her success in gaining her pilot’s licence and she had travelled over the Atlantic for the successful attempt.
What strikes me about the characters of these early aviators is their single minded determination to break records or rise to the next challenge. Their challenges appeared to totally dominate every moment of their lives and, although each appeared to be ruthless, to the exclusion at times of others and any sense of a normal life, you could not help but admire them greatly!
I found a group who have already celebrated Harriet’s achievement, incidentally the namesake of my primary character in my novel Riduna, Women of Aviation, and so if you’d like to know more it is worth checking out.