Friday, January 6, 2012

Aida in the Air

Aida de Acosta Root, 1915
Flying the "IX"
We haven't had a spunky lady here at Just Sayin' in a while, so after finding her in the excellent blog, Obscure American History, I'd like you to meet the lady who beat the Wright Brothers in the race of history, only to have her story supressed for decades.
Aida was born to a Cuban father, a shipping tycoon, who joined the rebels in 1898 to drive out the Spanish, even though he had been raised in Spain.  Her mother was a descendant of the famous Spanish Dukes of Alba.  While in Paris in the summer of 1903, Aida discovered the Brazilian aviator Santos-Dumont's dirigible "IX" ("Nine").
The nineteen-year-old talked her way into lessons before piloting the airship solo at the end of June; the first of three such flights was for a half mile at 15 m.p.h.  The first woman to fly a powered aircraft, she took to the air six months before the Wrights.
The story was hushed up, though, because her parents thought it would scare away any suitable potential husbands.  She did marry twice, first to magnate Oren Root II and then to Col. Henry Breckinridge, but divorced them both.  Probably too slow for her.

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