Before Amelia: Women Pilots in the Early Days of Aviation

Overview

Before Amelia is the remarkable story of the world?s women pioneer aviators who braved the skies during the early days of flight. While most books have only examined the women aviators of a single country, Eileen Lebow looks at an international spectrum of pilots and their influence on each other. The story begins with Raymonde de Laroche, a French woman who became the first licensed female pilot in 1909. De Laroche, Lydia Zvereva, Melli Beese, Hilda Hewlitt, Harriet Quimby, and the other women pilots profiled ...
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Before Amelia: Women Pilots in the Early Days of Aviation

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Overview

Before Amelia is the remarkable story of the world’s women pioneer aviators who braved the skies during the early days of flight. While most books have only examined the women aviators of a single country, Eileen Lebow looks at an international spectrum of pilots and their influence on each other. The story begins with Raymonde de Laroche, a French woman who became the first licensed female pilot in 1909. De Laroche, Lydia Zvereva, Melli Beese, Hilda Hewlitt, Harriet Quimby, and the other women pilots profiled here rose above contemporary gender stereotypes and proved their ability to fly the temperamental heavier-than-air contraptions of the day.

Lebow provides excellent descriptions of the dangers and challenges of early flight. Crashes and broken bones were common, and many of the pioneers lost their lives. But these women were adventurers at heart. In an era when women’s professional options were severely limited and the mere sight of ladies wearing pants caused a sensation, these women succeeded as pilots, flight instructors, airplane designers, stunt performers, and promoters. This book fills a large void in the history of the first two decades of flight.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lebow has undertaken major international research to unearth the obscure and long-forotten pilots who finally receive the recognition they deserve in this lively and well-written book. . . . It is a pleasure to be introduced to these wonderful women by such a talented writer. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the earliest period of aviation or in women's history and to the general reader looking for a fast-paced, highly readable work on an unusual topic."
Library Journal
In the early days of aviation, the Wright Brothers refused to sell their airplanes to women because, in their opinion, women lacked the requisite "coolness and judgment" to fly. Despite such obstacles, a number of women in the first decades of flying managed to become accomplished pilots and to play various other roles in aviation. Lebow's book surveys the careers of these remarkable women, both in the United States and internationally. She looks at women such as Hilda Hewlett of England, who was not only a pilot but cofounded England's first aviation school in 1910 and produced her own line of aircraft. Lebow (A Grandstand Seat: The American Balloon Service in World War I) is an accomplished writer particularly adept at doing archival and historical research and then bringing it to life. Much of the attention in the area of women in aviation has gone to later figures, like Amelia Earhart, while the earlier pioneers of the pre-World War I era have been largely overlooked. Lebow's well-researched book fills that gap. It is engaging to read, with useful chapter notes and ample illustrations. Highly recommended for women's studies and aviation history collections. Charles Cowling, SUNY at Brockport Lib. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
In these engaging stories of several French, German, Russian, and American early women aviators we learn how their spunk was often met by intense opposition to women's participation in flying. Lebow, who carried out her research in France and the US, features the first woman to fly, Raymonde de Laroche; some women who performed stunts in competitions; two who built planes in WWI; flying instructors; and some hired to fly to advertise how simple it was. Illustrated in b&w. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574885323
  • Publisher: Potomac Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/30/2003
  • Pages: 315
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen F. Lebow is an author and former teacher. Her previous books includeCal Rodgers and the Vin Fiz: The First Transcontinental Flight and A Grandstand Seat: The Army Balloon Corps in World War I. She lives in Washington, D.C.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
1 In the Beginning 1
2 L'Aeroplane est la! 8
3 Vive les Femmes! 46
4 den Tragodien unseres Berufes 56
5 The Imperial Eagle Sprouts New Wings 90
6 The English Catch the Bug 101
7 America Gets Wings 131
8 Official Bird 145
9 A Second Bird Takes to the Air 164
10 Star Quality 179
11 Superstar II 201
12 Little Sister 225
13 More Rare Birds 249
14 The Challenge Is There 273
Appendix The Fliers 277
Notes on Sources 281
Bibliography 295
Index 303
About the Author 315
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