because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Harriet Quimby

Only seven years after the Wright Brothers flew the first circle in a heavier-than-air powered machine, Harriet Quimby was awarded her pilot's certificate and the following year she flew across the English Channel. Unfortunately, she scheduled her flight for the day after the Titanic sunk and nobody -- but nobody -- was paying attention.

Far from being the tough type, Quimby was, in fact, a farm girl who became a photo-journalist and a screenwriter in the very early 1900's. But then she discovered flying. “If a woman wants to fly," she declared, "first of all, she must, of course, abandon skirts."

Taking planes into the wild blue yonder in the purple satin hooded jumpsuit she designed herself, she became such an overnight sensation that she was offered $100,000 to present a flying exhibition to an obviously large and well-paying crowd near Boston, Massachusetts, on July 1, 1912.

Buzzing around 1500 feet in the air in a brand new open cockpit two-seater Bleriot monoplane, Quimby and her passenger (the guy who had organized the event) were having a swell time thrilling the folks below when an air pocket caused the plane to lurch, ejecting them out of their seats and they fell to their deaths in front of their horrified viewers.

Quimby was thirty-seven. She wasn't married. She had no kids. She was supporting her parents. And she didn't even leave a diary. Oh, those in-your-face women! They can be a carefree and mysterious bunch, huh?

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