The first woman ever to pilot an aircraft solo was a Cuban American

In 1903, Aida de Acosta became the first woman to ever pilot an actual flying machine solo. An amazing achievement both for women and for Cuban Americans.

Via CubaNet (my translation):

Cuban American Aida de Acosta, the first woman to pilot an aircraft

Cuban American Aide de Acosta (New Jersey, 1884 — New York, 1962) was the first woman to fly an aircraft solo and she did it on June 27, 1903.

On June 27, 1903, the young woman convinced Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont to let her fly his personal dirigible #9.

Already a socialite at the age of 19, Aida was in Paris on that date when she saw dirigibles for the first time and it piqued her interest, inspiring her to take three flying lessons.

Aide de Acosta flew for an hour and a half from the center of Paris to the Bagatelle Castle. Santos-Dumont followed her on his bicycle, yelling instructions up to her.

Upon landing, an emotional Santos Dumont said to her: “Mademoiselle, vous êtes la première aero-chauffeuse du monde!” (Miss, you are the first woman pilot in the world!). And sure enough, she was.

Upon finding out about the flight, her father, Ricardo de Acosta, a steamboat company executive of Cuban descent, and her mother, Micaela Hernandez de Alba and de Alba, presumably a descendant of Spain’s prestigious De Alba family, decided to keep her accomplishment a secret out of fear it would be frowned upon. It wasn’t until the 1930s that Aida decided to make her feat public and told her husband.

In 1922,Aida de Acosta was stricken with glaucoma, losing sight in one of her eyes. But thanks to the care of renowned ophthalmologist William H. Wilmer, she was able to save the other eye.

Her battle with glaucoma led her to become an advocate for ocular care and she later went on to be the Executive Director of the Eye Bank for Sight Restoration in New York, the first eye bank in the U.S.

Aida de Acosta died at the age of 77 in New York City.

Read more about Aida de Acosta’s historic achievement HERE.

2 thoughts on “The first woman ever to pilot an aircraft solo was a Cuban American”

  1. When Cuba was a refined country full of accomplished people. We, also, had Olympic fencing champions, chess champions, famous composers whose music would span the globe, outstanding businessmen, a socialite who married a prince, etc…

    • Yes, but that was obviously too much for a Caribbean island which was supposed to be a primitive third-world shithole, so the matter had to be corrected–and it’s been corrected, in spades,

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