Aviation Pioneer Harriet Quimby

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In 1867 William and Ursula Quimby moved to Arcadia Township, Michigan. On May 11, 1875 daughter Harriet Quimby was born most likely in Arcadia Township, Michigan. She went to school at Arcadia School District's School No. 1, the Gabel School. Sometime between 1887 and 1890 when Harriet was about 12-15 years old, the Quimby family moved to California. She would later write this:

"To Americans living in the large cities the danger of over-artificiality, of utter divorcement from nature, is very great, and it is wonderful how a few plants on the roof, in the window or the back yard, will take one back to the days when life was very sweet and the hours long."
-- Leslie's Illustrated Weekly. 1905.

The William Quimby Family in Arcadia

After serving as a Union soldier in the Civil War, William Quimby received a land grant for 160 acres located about three miles southeast of present day Arcadia. In 1867 he moved from Branch County, Michigan to the Arcadia area with his wife Ursula and two small children: 6-year-old Jennie A. Quimby and 4-year-old Willie L. Quimby.

Harriet Quimby's Flight across the English Channel

Less than eight years after the Wright Brothers first flight, Harriet Quimby became the first American woman and second in the world to receive a pilot's license. On April 16, 1912, she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, a significant feat in the early history of aviation.

The Harriet Quimby Michigan Historic Site Marker

On May 25, 2000 on the site of the Quimby homestead, an historic marker was dedicated commemorating the life of Harriet Quimby, journalist, and pioneer aviatrix. On July 17, 2004, she was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Museum Tour: The Harriet Quimby Exhibit

On the second floor of the Arcadia Area Historical Museum is an exhibit summarizing her accomplishments and her family's history in the area. For the summer of 2012 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her flight across the English Channel, this exhibit will be enhanced to include more photos, artifacts, and other information about her and her family.

See Also

NOVA: America's First Lady of the Air

NOVA: Antique Aviation

The International Women's Air & Space Museum presents: History for People with Short Attention Spans: Harriet Quimby

PBS: Chasing the Sun: Harriet Quimby

Onekama Consolidated Schools: Harriet Quimby

EAA News: June 6, 2011. Replica Bleriot Makes First Flight


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Preparing to Take Off

Without brakes, the Bleriot XI airplane had to be held down until the pilot, in this case Harriet Quimby, was ready to take off.




© 1991 U.S. Postal Service
Used with permission