Bessica Medlar Raiche

raiche_1_200.jpg Bessica Medlar Raiche

On September 16, 1910, Bessica Raiche made the first accredited solo flight by a woman in the United States.

Raiche was considered a "new" woman of the 20th century because she drove an automobile and wore bloomers. Besides being an accomplished musician, painter, and linguist, she also participated in such typically masculine activities as swimming and shooting.

While studying music in Paris, she became intrigued by the flying of the Baroness Raymonde de la Roche.

Settling in Mineola, New York, she and her husband, Francois, built their first plane, a Wright type, in their living room. It was in this frail craft of bamboo and silk that she made her solo flight. ...more

Text excerpt and Image [Smithsonian Institution Negative #A951-A] used with permission
Copyright © 2000 National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Bessica Medlar Raiche

While studying in France at the turn of the century, Mineola resident Bessica Medlar Raiche became interested in aviation-so much so that when she and her husband returned to the United States, they built a silk-and-bamboo biplane.

The couple transported the finished aircraft to the Hempstead Plains, and on Sept 26, 1910, Raiche climbed aboard and took off, landing in the history books as the first American woman to make a solo flight-though the flight lasted only a few minutes and ended in a crash. ...more

1910: François & Bessica Raiche

1910: François & Bessica Raiche, Mineola NY. 1911: French-American Aeroplane Co. 1910 = 1pOB; 28-32hp Crout (French) pusher; span: 33'0" length: 28'6". Curtiss-inspired design made of bamboo and silk, built in the home of these newlyweds, and assembled in their front yard. In this Bessie Raiche flew on 9/16/10, with no prior instruction or experience.

Although her flight was short, and only a few feet high, she is generally credited as the first woman in the US to solo an airplane. The couple went on to build and sell two more similar models in their early "cottage industry."

Bessica Raiche
by Henry M. Holden, © 1991 Black Hawk Publishing

Today, there is a mild disagreement over which woman flew first. Since it was never definitely established whether Scott's first flight was accidental or intentional, some give the credit of the "First Woman Aviator of America" to Bessica Raiche, for her flight on October 13, 1910. Raiche never thought there was any rivalry between them...

"Blanche deserved the recognition, but I got more attention because of my lifestyle. I drove an automobile, was active in sports like shooting and swimming, and I even wore riding pants and knickers. People who did not know me or understand me looked down on this behavior. I was an accomplished musician, painter and linguist, I enjoyed life, and just wanted to be myself."

Raiche became interested in aviation when she visited France and saw the Wright brothers fly their airplane. When she and her husband Francois returned to America, they built their first airplane. It was a Wright?type craft, which they innovated with bamboo, piano, wire and silk. They built the pieces in the living room of their home and assembled it in the backyard. ...more

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