International Woman’s Day and Raymonde de Laroche

March 8th ….

International Woman’s Day and Raymonde de Laroche the first female licensed airplane pilot!


Today is International Woman’s Day!  The United Nations did not begin celebrating International Women’s Day until 1975 which was the International Women’s Year. However, the roots of the day go back a lot farther. International Women’s Day was originally called International Working Women’s Day,  The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America. The roots of Woman’s Day also extend back in Russia to 1917….from Wikipedia….

….In 1917 demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Petrograd, Russia, on the last Thursday in February (which fell on March 8 on the Gregorian calendar) initiated the February Revolution.[2] Women in Saint Petersburg went on strike that day for “Bread and Peace” – demanding the end of World War I, an end to Russian food shortages, and the end of czarism.[5] Leon Trotsky wrote, “23 February (8th March) was International Woman’s Day and meetings and actions were foreseen. But we did not imagine that this ‘Women’s Day’ would inaugurate the revolution. Revolutionary actions were foreseen but without date. But in morning, despite the orders to the contrary, textile workers left their work in several factories and sent delegates to ask for support of the strike… which led to mass strike… all went out into the streets. Read More

Last night, my daughter informed me that if all the women in Riverside’s elementary school didn’t go to work today, the school would be left with two Principals and two teachers and no support staff!

Raymonde de Laroche.


As I was looking over other events that occurred in history on this day I discovered Raymonde de Laroche. (22 August 1882 – 18 July 1919) On March 8th in 1910 de Laroche became the first woman in the world to receive an aeroplane pilot’s license. The Aero-Club of France issued the license  It was license #36 of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (International Aeronautics Federation or F.A.I.)!

From Wikipedia…

…As a young woman she became an actress and used the stage name “Raymonde de Laroche”. Inspired by Wilbur Wright’s 1908 demonstrations of powered flight in Paris and being personally acquainted with several aviators, including artist-turned-aviator Léon Delagrange, who was reputed to be the father of her son André, de Laroche determined to take up flying for herself

In October 1909, de Laroche appealed to her friend, aviator and aeroplane builder Charles Voisin, to instruct her in how to fly. On 22 October 1909, de Laroche went to the Voisin brothers’ base of operations at Chalons, 90 miles (140 km) east of Paris. Voisin’s aircraft could seat only one person, so she operated the plane by herself while he stood on the ground and gave instructions. After she mastered taxiing around the airfield, she lifted off and flew 300 yards (270 m).[1]:11–13 De Laroche’s flight is often cited as the first by a woman in a powered heavier-than-air craft; there is evidence that two other women, P. Van Pottelsberghe and Thérèse Peltier, had flown the previous year with Henri Farman and Delagrange respectively as passengers but not as pilots

Raymonde de Laroche’s Flying Crashes


Raymonde Laroche was involved in several crashes during her aviation career. Again from Wikipedia

Raymonde de Laroche in_her_Voisin_biplane_Reims air show

In July 1910, de Laroche was participating in the week-long airshow at Reims in France. On 8 July, her aeroplane crashed, and she suffered such severe injuries that her recovery was in doubt, but two years later, she was fit again and had returned to flying. On 26

September 1912, she and Charles Voisin were involved in a car crash. Voisin was killed, and she was severely injured.[6]

Her crash on 18 July 1919 took her life….

….de Laroche, who was a talented engineer, went to the airfield at Le Crotoy as part of her plan to become the first professional woman test pilot. She co-piloted an experimental aircraft (whether she flew this plane or was a passenger at the time is not known); on its landing approach the aeroplane went into a dive and crashed, killing both de Laroche and the co-pilot.

Raymonde de Laroche’s Flying Achievements and Legacy

In November of 1913, de Laroche was the Aero-Club of France’s Femina Cup for a non-stop long distance flight. The flight lasted over four hours!

Additionally,in June of 1919 de Laroche set two women’s altitude records, one at 15,700 feet (4,800 m).  She also established  the women’s distance record, at 201 miles (323 km)

Although Raymonde was more than qualified she was not allowed to be a pilot during World War I. At that time, the thought was it was too dangerous for a woman to be a pilot.  She did serve though, as a driver. She chauffeured officers from the rear zones to the front under fire. That sounds plenty dangerous too!

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week is celebrated yearly in the week that includes March 8th. March 8th of course commemorates the day Raymonde de Laroche received her pilot license. It is also International Women’s Day, The week according to Wikipedia

…. aims to foster diversity in aviation by celebrating women’s history, raising awareness of aviation’s opportunities among girls and women, and shaping the future by introducing girls and women to aviation through industry-wide collaboration.

Links for the Further Explorations of Raymonde de Laroche

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, –Women in Aviation and Space History – Baroness Raymonde de Laroche