Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Therese Peltier - Pioneer Women in Aviation: A-Z Challenge

Therese Peltier (1873-1926)
Meet Therese Peltier, who went up in a biplane with her good friend Leon in July 1908 and became famous that day. Many believe she was the first female passenger to fly in an airplane.  

Therese was not your traditional pioneer aviator. She was a professional sculptress by trade. Born in France in 1873, not much more is known, or about the type of sculptures she created. We do know she was friends with Leon Delagrange, a fellow sculptor known for his exhibitions. Leon was also one of the world's top pioneer aviators.  

Leon had recently ordered and purchased a 1907 Voison biplane. As was customary, the plane was named after its owner, Delagrange I. The airplane was powered by a 50 hp V8 engine and had a wingspan of 33 feet.

While touring Turin, Italy in his new plane, near the French border, Leon offered Therese a ride as passenger. Therese was 35 and one can assume by the smile on her face in the photo, she was excited and perhaps a bit hesitant. Whether she had traveled there to meet Leon or lived near Turin is unclear. 



Leon Delagrange sculpting in his shop,
 one in which Therese may have worked.

How the 1907 Voison Biplane looked in the air. It had what was called a box-kite tail.

Therese and Leon flew for a distance of 656 feet that day, six feet off the ground. Therese enjoyed the ride so much, she must have taken lessons, because two months later in September 1908 she flew solo in the same plane (exact date is debated). She became the first woman to pilot a heavier-than-air craft (some dispute whether the plane qualified as a heavier-than-air craft). 

Apparently, Therese caught the flying bug. She made plans to enter a flying competition that offered 1,000 francs as grand prize. She wanted to be the first woman to fly one kilometer, but in 1910 Leon was killed in a crash. Therese quit flying and never received a license, and her brief flirtation as an aviator ended.

Therese with Leon in the Delagrange I

 


Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9r%C3%A8se_Peltier; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A9on_Delagrange;
http://www.ooyuz.com/geturl?aid=4482709; http://longstreet.typepad.com/books/women-history-of-1/
http://www.aweu.org/ext_files/KarenOlsen-AWE2006_presentation.pdf


22 comments:

  1. Most enthralling to read Sharon,
    Yvonne.

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    1. Hi Yvonne. Glad you enjoyed.Thank you!

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  2. Wow. Great post. I'd never heard of her. Thanks for sharing. https://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thanks for reading and visiting. Unfortunately I did not find much on her life.

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  3. Loved the story--and the photos. All of these women have been phenomenal!

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    1. Thanks Kenda! The photos have brought these aviators to life. Amazing what can be learned online.

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  4. Great history. What a wonderful, adventurous life. That plane looks really scary. I can't imagine going up into the air in it.
    Mary at Play off the Page

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    1. Yes pretty ricketty if you ask me!! These first planes must have broken up easily on impact.

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  5. I'm sure she didn't even think at the time about the fact that she was probably the first woman to ride in an airplane.

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    1. True of course. But who knows? Maybe one of us will be first at something and talked about in the years the come!!

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  6. I'm always amazed that those plane went up and even more amazed that they stayed up. Early aviation was not for the timid. She looked as if she had a real sense of adventure about her.

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    1. No kidding. Some must have thought it foolish watching others go up but what a thrill to watch!! I think I would have tried though.

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  7. Wow she is an early pioneer and I was thinking she must have died in a plane crash. What did she die of?? She is a gutsy lady to go up in these early sticks and fabric contraptions.

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    1. There wasn't much on this brave lady, so I have no idea. I think she was wise to quit when she did. So many died in these early flying machines!!

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  8. Replies
    1. More of a giant kite, I think. No wonder so many died!

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  9. Very interesting. Visiting from the A to Z Challenge, glad I dropped by! :)

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  10. I don't think I would have had the nerve to be the first passenger.

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    1. I might have tried but I would Have needed to trust him too. Maybe they were in love :) Thanks again for reading Denise.

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  11. This must be one of the 'oldest' stories in your challenge, or am I mistaken?
    Fascinating as always :-)

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

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    1. Not quite. Sophie Blanchard, the balloonist, was born in 1778. Thanks for reading Sarah!

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