Harriet Quimby Day is an unofficial holiday commemorating the life and achievements of the pioneering aviator who was the first woman in the US to gain a pilot’s license.
Born on May 11th, 1875, in Arcadia, Michigan, Harriet Quimby’s first interest was journalism. She began writing for the San Francisco Dramatic Review in 1902, and in the following year, at the age of 28, she moved to NYC and worked as a drama critic and editor of the women’s page for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly.
In 1910, Quimby was sent to cover an international air show for the newspaper and became intrigued by the magic of aviation. She began taking flying lessons at the Moisant Aviation School, and on August 2nd, 1911, 36 years old Quimby gained her pilot’s license, becoming the first woman in the US and the second woman in the world to receive an official aviator certificate.
She continued to write for the newspaper, mainly about her flying experiences, while joining the Moisant International Aviators, participating in air shows, and showcasing her aviation talents. A few months after obtaining her license, she became the first person to fly over Mexico City and the first woman to fly across the English Channel. On July 1st, 1912, during a flying contest over the Boston Harbor, Quimby lost control of her aircraft, and she and her passenger fell to their deaths. She was 37 years old.
Harriet Quimby Day is celebrated annually on August 2nd, the date she made history as the first official woman pilot in the US. The day provides an opportunity to honor Quimby’s accomplishments and appreciate her groundbreaking successes as a woman pilot in a still male-dominated field. On the day, you can learn more about Quimby’s life as well as other pioneering women in aviation, such as Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, and Neta Snook Southern.
Quimby in 1911. Photo credit – LOC.
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