The Sunday Post (Newcastle)
APRIL 16, 1912
Aviation pioneer Harriet Quimby took off from Dover and pointed the nose of her plane towards France.
Fifty-eight minutes later on April 16, 1912 she landed on the beach at Équihen-Plage, Pas-de-Calais, and became the first woman to pilot a plane across the English Channel. In her specially made purple flying suit, the slightly built Quimby, then just 36, was already a media star, with a lucrative advertising contract for a grape juice.
Born in 1875 in Michigan, Quimby was the first US woman to hold an Aero Club of America aviator’s certificate. Pilots could earn as much as $1,000 per performance, and prize money for a race could go as high as $10,000 or more.
Quimby joined the Moisant International Aviators, an exhibition team, and made her professional debut, earning $1,500, in a night flight over Staten Island before a crowd of almost 20,000 spectators.
Flying wasn’t her only skill – she was also a successful movie writer, writing seven screenplays for silent films.
But tragedy followed just weeks after Quimby’s historic channel crossing. On July 1, she flew in the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet in her new two-seat Bleriot monoplane. At 1,000 feet the aircraft unexpectedly pitched forward for reasons unknown.
Quimby and her passenger were ejected from their seats and fell to their deaths, while the plane glided down and crashed.