Who was the first woman pilot? Who was the first woman to fly combat missions?
The first WOMAN PILOT was Mlle Elise Deroche, better known by her self-assumed title, Baronne de la Roche, who was taught to fly at Chalons in a Voisin biplane by the Chief Instructor of Voisin Freres; she made her first solo flight—a ‘straight’ of 300 yd—on 22 October 1909. The following year she won her brevet, becoming the world’s first qualified woman pilot on 8 March.
In Britain Miss Edith Maud Cook learned to fly early in 1910 under the name of Miss ‘Spencer Kavanagh’ on Bleriot monoplanes at the Grahame-White School at Pau, France. Well known as a parachute-jumper under another of her pseudonyms, ‘Violet Spenser’, she was killed making a descent from a captive balloon over Coventry in July 1910.
First to obtain her pilot’s licence was Hilda Hewlett, who learned to fly in 1910, raced against male pilots in that year, and qualified on a Farman in August 1911. She subsequently ran her own flying school and during World War I became an instructor of fledgling RFC fighter pilots.
The first Woman pilot to fly combat missions was 22-year-old Sabiha Gokchen, adopted daughter of Turkish President Kemal Ataturk, who was a member of the nine-Plane unit of the Turkish Flying Corps which helped quell a revolt of Kurdish tribesmen in the Dersion during March-June 1937. She was on active service for a month, bombing and strafing the enemy without suffering any personal injury.