women in aviation and space history

Helene Dutrieu

Helene Dutrieu
NASM-73-4023
National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Helene Dutrieu

Early Flight (107)

Helene Dutrieu of Belgium was known as the "girl hawk" of aviation because she was the most daring and accomplished woman pilot of her time. She first soloed in France in 1909 and within a year was setting altitude and distance records. She thrilled the world in September of 1910 by flying non-stop from Ostend to Bruges, Belgium and she became the first Belgian woman to receive a pilot license on November 25, 1910. During her second year as an aviator she narrowly escaped death twice. She visited the United States in 1911, making her American debut at the Nassau Boulevard Aviation meeting. Back in Europe, Dutrieu won France's Coupe Femina for the women's world nonstop light record on December 31, 1911 flying 254 kilometers (158 miles) in 178 minutes. In Florence, Italy she was the only woman in a field of 15 and out flew all of her male competitors to win the King's Cup. In 1913 the French government awarded Dutrieu the Legion of Honor for her achievements and for the glory she brought to France. She also became an ambulance driver and later a director of a military hospital.

(information compiled by D. Cochrane and P. Ramirez)