women in aviation and space history

Raymonde de la Roche

Raymonde de la Roche
NASM-81-3423
National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Raymonde de la Roche

Early Flight (107)

In 1909, while the Baroness Raymonde de la Roche was dining with Charles Voisin, he suggested that she learn to fly an airplane. Her new ambition took her to the French flying grounds at Chalons where she was taught by Voisin himself. On March 8, 1910 she received the first pilot's license awarded to a woman. She entered the 1910 Reims meet as the only female participant and was seriously injured in a crash. After a lengthy recovery, she went on to win the Femina Cup for a nonstop flight of four hours. In 1919, the Baroness set a women's altitude record of 4,785 meters (15,700 feet). In the summer of 1919, de la Roche, who was also a talented engineer, reported to the airfield at Le Crotoy to copilot a new aircraft in hopes of becoming the first female test pilot. Unfortunately, the aircraft went into a dive on its landing approach and both the Baroness and the pilot were killed. A statue of de la Roche stands at Le Bourget airport in France.

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