Harriet Quimby (1875-1912) was a famous American female aviator whose career as a pilot did not last long but was undeniably heroic. She was the first American lady to become a licensed pilot and the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She was also a movie screenwriter. Even though she died very young, Harriet played a key influence upon the role of women in aviation.
Harriet Quimby was born in Arcadia, Michigan on May 1, 1875. Her parents, William and Ursula were wealthy and educated her in America. Her only sibling was her older sister Kittie, while there were others before them who did not survive childhood and died due to various diseases.
During the early 1900s, Harriet and her family moved to San Francisco, California and in 1902, she took a position as a writer for the journal “Dramatic Review”. The following year she moved to New York City where she began writing for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly and more than 250 of her articles were published over a span of nine years. Her articles ranged in scope from household tips (“Home and the Household”) to advice for women on ways to find employment, budget their income, live prudently on a modest income in a safe apartment and ways to repair their automobiles themselves.
Quimby had always dreamed of becoming a journalist, but her plans changed after she attended the Belmont Park International Aviation Tournament on Long Island, New York in 1910. There she met Matilde Moisant and her brother John (a well-known American aviator and operator of a flight school at Mineola), who was mainly responsible for developing her interest in aviation.
Along with her friend Matilde Moisant, Quimby learned to fly at a school in Hempstead, New York, becoming the first U.S. woman to earn a pilot’s certificate. She received license number 37 from the Aero Club of America after just 33 lessons. Moisant soon followed and became the nation’s second certified female pilot. Soon after Harriet received her pilot license, she joined the Moisant International Aviators, an exhibition team. With the Moisant group she traveled to Mexico and became the first woman to fly over Mexico City.
Harriet Quimby said
“In my opinion, there is no reason why the aeroplane should not open a fruitful occupation for women. I see no reason why they cannot realize handsome incomes by carrying passengers between adjacent towns, why they cannot derive incomes from parcel deliveries, from taking photographs from above or from conducting schools for flying”
She found time in 1911 to write seven screenplays that were made into silent films.
In 1912 Quimby borrowed a 50-horsepower Bleriot monoplane from Louis Bleriot and began preparations for an English Channel flight. Her consultant, Gustav Hamel, unsure of a woman’s ability to make such a flight, offered to dress in her purple flying suit and make the flight for her. She refused and on April 16, 1912 flew from Dover, England, to Hardelot, France (about 25 miles south of Calais). She flew the 22 miles across the Channel in one hour nine minutes.
She would make quite a name for herself accomplishing this feat though it passed relatively unnoticed at the time by the press due to the sinking of the Titanic on the 14 April. She then returned successful, to America.
Three months later, on July 1, 1912 Quimby made her last flight at the Harvard-Boston Aviation Meet where she met with a tragic accident. She was flying in the Bleriot with William Willard when suddenly the plane went into a nose dive. Willard was thrown from his seat after which the aircraft flipped over, throwing Harriet out too. Both Quimby and Willard fell and died at Dorchester Bay. Ironically the aircraft landed with little damage. Quimby died aged 37 years.
Frequency and Resonance
Gisela von Krieger 1913-1989 is good match for Harriet Q.
Gisela, who dressed in Chanel, lived an aristocratic lifestyle with her brother Henning and divorced mother, Josephine, while living in Paris in the 1930s. Fast and expensive cars were a big part of that.
The Mercedes came into the Von Krieger family when the baroness was 23 years old and World War II was rapidly approaching. This was about the time that the baroness' love affair with the unnamed Englishmen ended, bizarrely whilst crossing the channel to France he threw himself out of the airplane when she refused to marry him! (Mirroring Harriet Quimby old route crossing the Channel!)
It was presumably a combination of Von Krieger's indecisiveness, pressure from her mother and the political awkwardness of a German noblewoman being romantically involved with a potential enemy who was also of Jewish descent.
After the war, the family and the car moved to the U.S., where Gisela obtained citizenship by claiming that she was stateless. She drove the vehicle in New York and had it serviced in Manhattan before moving to Greenwich, Connecticut.
Her brother was in the Luftwaffe as pilot during in the War.
The family moved back to Switzerland in 1958 so that her brother Henning, who became ill, could be treated by doctors there. She stored the roadster in a barn at the Homestead Inn, in Greenwich, and paid $8.70 a year for $1,500 of insurance. Henning died a year later, and Gisela never returned to the U.S. The car sat untouched for years, growing ever more valuable as vintage cars became collectibles.
Gisela died at age 75 without a will. Her estate — which also included Cartier diamonds and other jewelry as well as the Mercedes — was tied up in litigation until 1994. The vehicle was eventually sold by heirs for an undisclosed sum, ultimately finding its way to its current owner, Herrington.
Born 1988 in Dover and took her first flight in micro-lite age 8. She has lived Switzerland, Austria and New York and loves Hotels.
..... need I says more? To be continued.....
A strange coincidence :
Stephen Ratcliffe on June 8, 2012 at 9:46 am
I met Ormond Haydon-Baillie in 1976 or 1977, when working at MTU Muenchen. He visited the firm to hunt for engines (MTU had some licence-built Orendas which might have been suitable for one of his aircraft) and was passed to me – I think perhaps because my German colleagues were at a loss about how to deal with him! He was certainly larger than life, came across as a very cultured personality, very easy to talk to, but very forceful. Gave me some publicity material for his collection which I still have somewhere in store. As a young-minded 26 year old I didn’t have the aggression or the position in the firm to help him with his wishes, though I would have liked to. I did try to research the situation for him, and spoke with Ed Whittering who had been involved with Orenda for MTU at one time. My day with Ormond ended with me driving him to a posh restaurant near Odeonsplatz in Munich where he had an assignation with a German lady of noble descent, I forget her exact name. I think he must have used me to interpret for him. I heard later that he had been killed, but never knew the details until now.
Anonymous on June 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm
I think the name of the lady you mention might have been Gabrielle Vogler (not sure about the spelling). I have just stumbled across this site, and have many fond memories of assisting OHB both in the UK and in Germany, but thankfully I did not see the crash, being away overseas at the time. It was a great shock to hear of the accident some time well after the event. A true Gentleman, aviator and engineer I feel honoured to have known.
Anonymous on July 4, 2012 at 10:41 am
There was a lady called Gabrielle who was with Ormond for a while until his death in germany, Her father owned a car dealership in Germany. I met her when she came to Duxford, I was a member of his ground crew and talked to Gabrielle as I had spent several years in Germany.
There was a german boy who helped clean the Mustang, He was the one who was killed in the crash. German TV filmed the crash