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QUIMBY, HARRIET: A journalist by training, was the first major female pilot in the United States, and one of the world's best women aviators. In 1911, she became the first licensed female pilot in the United States, and less than a year later, became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Although Quimby lived only to age 37, she had a major impact on women's roles in aviation; she was a true pioneer and helped break down stereotypes about women's abilities during the first decade of flight. Quimby was also very beautiful and stylish. At a time when other pilots, most of whom were male, flew in very undistinguished gear, she designed her own trademark flight suit, a purple satin outfit with a hood, which she wore whenever she flew.   Quimby was born to a family of farmers on May 11, 1875, near Coldwater, Michigan. Because none of her early records still exist, scholars have been unable to piece together much about her early life. Her story consequently picks up when her family moved to San Francisco in the early 1900s. At that time, Quimby was an aspiring actress, but despite her beauty and apparent theatrical flair, she chose to become a journalist and drama critic and began writing for the San Francisco Bulletin. After crossing the Channel, Quimby returned to New York and resumed exhibition flying. But her career ended prematurely in tragedy. On July 1, 1912, flying in the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet at Squantum, Massachusetts, with William Willard, the event's organizer aboard, her brand-new 70-horsepower (52-kilowatt), two-seat, Bleriot monoplane unexpectedly pitched forward, ejecting both Willard and Quimby. The two plunged to their deaths in the shallow waters of Dorchester Bay in front of some 5,000 horrified spectators.  (Source: