Tag Archives: Henri Farman Aviation School

22 December 1910

Hélène Dutrieu (Library of Congress)
Pierre Lafitte
Pierre Lafitte

22 December 1910: Hélène Dutrieu won the first Coupe Fémina by flying her Farman airplane 60.8 kilometers (37.8 miles) in 1 hour, 9 minutes at Étampes, about 48 kilometers (29 miles) southwest of Paris, France.

The Fémina Cup was established by Pierre Antoinne Baptiste René Lafitte, publisher of Fémina, a ladies’ magazine. A prize of ₣2,000 was awarded to the woman who had completed the longest flight of the year.

Mlle Dutrieu won the prize again the following year with a distance of 243.8 kilometers (151.5 miles) and duration of 2 hours, 58 minutes.

Hélène Dutrieu was just the fourth woman to become a licensed airplane pilot. She began training with a Santos-Dumont Damoiselle, in which she crashed on her first flight. After trying with another aircraft builder, she went to the Farman brothers, who loaned her one of their airplanes and taught her to fly it. She held Aéro-Club de Belgique certificate number 27, issued at the end of August 1910, and a few months later, 25 November, she also received certificate number 27 from the Aéro-Club de France.

 Mlle Hélène Dutrieu with a Santos-Dumont Damoiselle, just before her first flight, 1908. (Unattributed)
Mlle Hélène Dutrieu with a Santos-Dumont Damoiselle, just before her first flight, 1908. (Unattributed)

Hélène Dutrieu was born 10 July 1877 at Tournai, Belgium, to Florent Dutrieu and Clothilde van Thieghem. She became a professional bicycle racer and at the age of 20, Mlle Dutrieu won the women’s cycling world championship and won again in 1898. She also won the Grand Prix d’Europe.

In addition to bicycle racing, Hélène Dutrieu raced motorcycles, cars and airplanes. For her athletic accomplishments, the King of Belgium awarded her the Cross of St. André with Diamonds, and in 1913, France made her a Chevalier de la légion d’honneur, the first woman so honored for aviation.

During World War I, Mlle Dutrieu served as an ambulance driver, and was assigned to supervise all ambulances at one hospital. Later she was director of the Campagne à Val-Grâce military hospital.

Mlle Ditrieu married a member of the French Assembly in 1922 and became a citizen of France. Mme Dutrieu-Mortier served as a vice president of the Aéro-Club de France.

Hélène Dutrieu-Mortier died at Paris, 27 June 1961 at the age of 83 years.

Hélène Dutrieu in her Farman airplane, 1911 (Unattributed)
Hélène Dutrieu in her Farman airplane, 1911 (Unattributed)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

21 July 1911

“Denise Moore” (1876–1911)

21 July 1911: Denise Moore was a popular figure in aviation circles in France.  She had been taking flying lessons at the Henri Farman Aviation School at Étampes, about 30 miles south of Paris.

She took off at 6:20 p.m. in Farman’s biplane, on her third flight of the day, and made two circuits of the field. On her third turn, the aircraft banked steeply and pitched downward. It crashed and Ms. Moore was killed. She was the first woman to be killed in an airplane accident.

FLIGHT reported:

Fatal Accident to Mme. Moore.

At the present moment there are a good many ladies learning to fly in France and they appear to be unperturbed by the fatal accident to Mme. Denise Moore at Mourmelon on Friday of last week. The unfortunate lady, of whom little is known beyond that she came from Algeria, had been making splendid progress during the three weeks she had been learning and during her early solo flights showed great promise. She was, however, fired by an ambition for altitude work and on the day when the accident happened, in spite of the emphatic directions of her instructor, she started off to go high. She had reached only 150 ft. however, when apparently she made a mistake in steering, for the machine fell sideways to the ground, the pilot being killed instantly.

FLIGHT, No. 135. (No. 30. Vol. III.), 29 July 1911, at Page 665

Denise Moore was a pseudonym for Mrs. E. J. Cornesson, widow of Denis Cornesson. She was the former Miss E. Jane-Wright. She assumed the name to keep her family from discovering that she was learning to fly.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes