women in aviation and space history

Bessica Raiche

Bessica Raiche
NASM-2007-5475
National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Bessica Raiche

Early Flight (107)

On September 16, 1910, Bessica Raiche made the first accredited solo flight by a woman in the United States. Raiche was considered a "new" woman of the 20th century because she drove an automobile and wore bloomers. Besides being an accomplished musician, painter, and linguist, she also participated in such typically masculine activities as swimming and shooting. While studying music in Paris, she became intrigued by the flying of the Baroness Raymonde de la Roche. Settling in Mineola, New York, she and her husband, Francois, built their first plane, a Wright type, in their living room. It was in this frail craft of bamboo and silk that she made her solo flight. In October 1910, the Aeronautical Society honored her with a dinner and a gold medal as America's first woman aviator. The Raiches expanded their home-based silk, wire, and bamboo aircraft industry into a profitable French-American company. Eventually, when Raiche gave up flying for health reasons, she embarked on another demanding career as a doctor of medicine. She became one of the nation's first woman specialists with a practice in obstetrics and gynecology.

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