Hélène Dutrieu

Throwback Thursday, aviatrix edition! Here’s a photo of Belgian pilot Hélène Dutrieu, the “Girl Hawk”. In 1910 she reputedly became the first woman pilot to fly with a passenger. In 1911, she was the only woman in a field of 15 pilots competing for the King’s Cup air race, which she won, becoming the first woman to win an air race. A year later, in July 1912, she became the first woman to pilot a seaplane.

There was a minor scandal early in her aviation career when it was revealed to the press that – the horror! – she did not wear a corset while flying. No time for that silliness, though: Hélène was also a cycling world champion, stuntwoman, actress, automobile racer, wartime ambulance driver, and director of a military hospital. Whew!

March is Women’s History Month. There are so many amazing female pilots, and we’ll be sharing their stories -stay tuned!