Library of Congress: cph.3c22868 (Photoshopped by Graham Woods)














One time journalist and screenplay author Harriet dressed in the purple wool-back satin flying suit with a hood (her own design) she always wore.


(May 11th, 1875 – July 1st, 1912)

Dover will be remembering another aviation pioneer from the 1900s on April 16th 2012 after that of Louis Blériot back in 2009. This time it's Harriet Quimby, an American born in Michigan, the first woman pilot to cross the Channel in an airplane. She made her flight less than a year after being the first US female to win a pilot's licence. Sadly, less than three months after her crossing, she was killed in an aircraft accident in Boston, Mass.; she was 37 years old.

US Postage stamp from 1991Members of the Harriet Quimby Centennial Committee want to create a monument in Dover to honour her feat of derring-do. In fact, they want to erect it in Northfall Meadow, in the shadow of Dover Castle, near where Louis Blériot, has his commemorative monument. A campaign in the US is being led by Giacinta Bradley Koontz, who wishes to celebrate Quimby's flight 99 years ago (at the time of writing), the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel.

She flew from Whitfield aerodrome, near Dover, at 5:30 in the morning in a Blériot borrowed from the man himself; she headed off in poor weather, the Gnome's fifty horses galloping at 1200 revolutions every minute. Quimby tells us the Daily Mirror's 'chase-boat' belched black smoke as it chugged away from Dover en route to Calais. Quimby landed on Equihen-Plage, Hardelot in the Pas de Calais after a 59 minute crossing of gusty winds and fogbanks, missing her Calais target by some 25 miles. The local French fishermen of Equihen were very pleased to greet this glamorous purple-clad beauty, I'll bet.

Adobe Flash Player settings need to allow storage of 2k of data. Right Click Pathe Video to adjust.The US group are hoping to create a celebration for  the week of April 16th 2012 at Dover and Hardelot in France, and there may even be a cross-channel anniversary flight. In her 1912 record breaking flight Harriet Quimby was sponsored by the Daily Mirror, she flew in an unfamiliar 50hp monoplane from Whitfield, and landed on the sandy beach in France. There may be more to come if I have details; meantime have a look at this classic piece of British Pathé News Film starting at 7:28 minutes into the clip.

Film News - April 2012

A film documentary is in production about Harriet Quimby's life by, ironically the very company she wrote screenplays for all those years ago, the USAs oldest movie studio, the Biograph Company (, created in 1895. For more docudrama details see the Facebook page ( dedicated to the new film with photos of the purple-clad, stunning actress Donnamarie Recco who is to play her part in this bio flick.

The Harriet Quimby Centenary Project in the UK are also commissioning a short documentary film about Harriet Quimby in June 2012; it will be available to buy at the Dover Regatta which takes place on the weekend of July 7/8th.


A 3 metre high stainless steel statue is planned for the cliffs overlooking Dover Eastern docks later in the year. A Blériot XI is being shipped from Holland to go on display at Dover Transport Museum ( and a day of celebrations on the seafront at Dover is planned for April 15, 2012.



Biograph CompanyAmerica's First Lady of the Air

May 11th 1875—Born Coldwater or was it Arcadia, Michigan, USA.
1900s—Moved to San Francisco, wrote articles for—'San Francisco Bulletin'.
1903 —Moved to New York, theatre critic for 'Leslie's Weekly Illustrated'.
1911—Wrote 5 screenplays for
'Biograph Company'. (Filmography)
August 1st 1911—Won Pilots' Licence, taught by John Moissant, Long Island.
September 1911—first female to make night-flight over crowd of 15,000.
March 1912—Sailed to England to make sponsored crossing of Channel.
March 1912—Crossed to France to meet Blériot and borrow a monoplane.
April 16th 1912—first female to make Channel Crossing.
July 1st. 1912—Died. Ejected from monoplane in flight with organiser, William Willard, at a Boston Air show.