Aviatrix from the past: Matilde E. Moisant

We all know by now that Harriet Quimbly is credited with being the first woman to receive her pilot’s certificate in 1911 but does anyone ever remember #2 of anything? Mike Williams sent me the link to the 2nd woman to receive her pilots certificate, Matilde E. Moisant, because he knew I’d be interested in her Indiana connection.

Matilde E. Moisant …. and her tiny little waist!

Born in 1878 in Indiana (let that soak in —- 1878) Moisant learned to fly at Alfred’s Moisant Aviation School on Long Island, New York. In 1911, a few weeks after her friend Harriet Quimby received her pilot’s certificate, Matilde Moisant became the second woman pilot certified by the Aero Club of America.

This photo is 100 years old…so what does it tell us? Women pilots are just HAPPY people.

She pursued a career in exhibition flying. In September 1911, she flew in the air show at Nassau Boulevard airfield in Garden City, New York and, while competing against Hélène Dutrieu, Moisant broke the women’s altitude world record and won the Rodman-Wanamaker trophy by flying to 1,200′. (100 Years later I can hit that in my S7 by the end of the runway on a cold day!)

A very pretty Matilde E. Moisant. After our post about Blanche Stuart Scott, Tina Thomas decided to name their straight wing Waco project “Blanche”. Who wants to name their girly bird after Matilde? What  a GREAT name!!

Moisant stopped flying on April 14, 1912 in Wichita Falls, Texas when her plane crashed (the same day that the Titanic sank). Less than two months later, her friend Harriet Quimby was killed when she fell from her plane.

Matilde Moisant and Harriet Quimby, the first two American women to earn pilot’s licenses, c. 1910s

Although Moisant recovered from her injuries, she gave up flying and moved to the family plantation in San Salvador.

Thank you, Matilde, so happy you had the blessing of a long life.


  • billpennock
    Posted at 01:56h, 27 March Reply

    My mother would have loved your event. She learned to fly on an aeronca in 1958. She went on to a career in socal as an instructor and the FAA designated examiner, one of very few women. She flew he AWTA race 3 times in the 60s including one of the east to west itineraries that was best competed below prevailing wind. Stories are amazing in my family about that one but Chesapeake bay at bouy level in a 260 Comanche with water spouts to the windshield come to mind. Whenever she could she would go back to teaching aerobatics in a taildragger.

  • Dr. Barbara Ganson
    Posted at 09:02h, 06 February Reply

    I have always wanted to be a taildragger pilot. That is my goal as a pilot. It would be great to have some of your pilots come to Florida to set up a table at our event at Arthur Dunn (X21) on Saturday March 9, 2013.

  • Dr. Barbara Ganson
    Posted at 09:00h, 06 February Reply

    First of all, I would like to invite the Ladies who love Taildraggers to an upcoming event near Kennedy Space Center on the Space Coast of Florida on Saturday March 9, 2013 at Arthur Dunn (X21). We are planning to give free rides to women and girls, focusing primarily on the middle school and early high school girls. We need more women pilots to give rides that day. Please get the word out and see our website flyitforwardtitusville.info

    Also, Matilde Moisant was the first woman to fly in Mexico in 1911.

  • Vanessa Jump Nelson
    Posted at 00:19h, 08 November Reply

    Awesome story, Judy! Thanks for sharing!

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