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Helene Boucher
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Aviator
    (May 23, 1908-November 30, 1934)
    Born in Versailles, France
    Early 1930s French aviatrix
    Set several women's world speed records
    Set the record --for both men and women -- for fastest speed over 1,000 kilometers in a Caudron C.450 (August 8, 1934)
    Killed while flying a Caudron C.430 Rafale near Versailles when the machine crashed into the woods of Guyancourt (November 30, 1934)
    Posthumously received a knighthood and awarded the Legion of Honor (December, 1934)
    Namesake for the competition for female pilots prize, the Boucher Cup, starting in 1935
    She is a national icon in France, but is virtually unknown outside of her home country.
    She has also been overshadowed by her more famous American counterpart, Amelia Earhart (or even Bessie Coleman...)
    She purchased an exorbitant English plane, which saddled her with debts for the rest of her life.
    She purchased the plane with the intention of making both a Cannes-Deauville and an Auvergne run, but two mishap forced landings killed that idea.
    She repeatedly tried a long distance flight from Paris to Saigon, but she couldn't get any farther than Iraq and she was forced to sell her plane (1933).
    Rumors persist that she had a Svengali-style relationship with her mentor, Michel Detroyat.
    Her death set off a firestorm of controversy, with the French media blaming Detroyat for spurring a 'young, innocent girl to such a dangerous sport.'
    She was called the 'Joan of Arc of the skies.'
    She was stunningly beautiful, even in full aviation gear.
    She was the first woman student pilot to graduate from the Aeroclub of Landes at Mont-de-Marsan (1931).
    She broke the record for all air acrobatics categories in the 1,000 kilometer range.
    She beat the world altitude record for women in light airplanes by 400 meters.
    She was praised and admired by flying legends Jean Mermoz and Antoine de Saint Exupery.
    She and fellow aviatrix Maryse Hilsz were commemorated on a Republique Francaise bill.
    Her 1930 meeting with Hilsz at Le Bourget convinced her to become a professional woman pilot.
    Her funeral parade was a national event with all major French dignitaries in attendance.
    She became the first woman to lie in state at Les Invalides.
    French screen legend, Anabella, stylistically modeled several of her movie characters after her.
    If people clung to hope that Amelia Earhart might have survived her 'final flight,' there was no doubt about Boucher; a young life with infinite promise was snuffed out before its potential could be fully realized.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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