Harriet Quimby (1875-1912)
Inspired by a story she was reporting, Quimby, a journalist by profession, became the first female licensed pilot in the United States in 1911. She immediately made several memorable exhibition flights, including a moonlit night flight over Staten Island, New York. The next year she became the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel, just three years after Louis Blériot first accomplished that feat. A few months later as hundreds looked on during an aviation meet in Boston Harbor, she fell to her death out of a plane flying at 1,500 feet.