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Briton who flew steerable balloon while PREGNANT in 1902 may have been first woman to fly

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A Briton who took to the air alone in her husband’s steerable balloon while pregnant should be credited as the first to woman to control a flying machine, a new book claims.

Rose Spencer, the wife of aeronaut Stanley Spencer, took to the sky above Crystal Palace, south London, in July 1902.

The flight took place 15 months before what is generally accepted to be the first motorised flight by a woman.

The official accolade belongs to Aida de Acosta Root Breckinridge, who flew a craft built by Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont in Paris.

But Spencer’s earlier flight was reported in some newspapers at the time. She carried out the feat in the course of trials of a craft built by her husband with the intention of pipping Santos-Dumont’s Paris attempt.

A Briton who took to the air alone in her husband's steerable balloon while pregnant should be credited as the first to woman to control a flying machine, a new book claims. Rose Spencer, the wife of aeronaut Stanley Spencer, took to the sky above Crystal Palace, south London, in July 1902. Above: Rose and her husband with daughter Gladys

A Briton who took to the air alone in her husband’s steerable balloon while pregnant should be credited as the first to woman to control a flying machine, a new book claims. Rose Spencer, the wife of aeronaut Stanley Spencer, took to the sky above Crystal Palace, south London, in July 1902. Above: Rose and her husband with daughter Gladys

British Australian author Sally Smith uncovers Rose’s story in her new book, Magnificent women and Flying Machines.

Quoted in The Times, the author said: ‘It was quite clear that Britain’s Rose Spencer took off on her own and flew, circling above Crystal Palace in south London, for just on half an hour before making a very controlled and gentle landing.

‘This was a year before the accepted pioneer Aida De Acosta made her flight, and I am delighted Rose should now receive the credit she deserves.’

Her book quotes from New Zealand newspapers which reported the original flight.

One dispatch reads: ‘The honour of being the first lady to navigate an airship has fallen to Mrs Stanley Spencer.

‘The aerostat behaved admirably and was under perfect control’.

The flight took place 15 months before what is generally accepted to be the first motorised flight by a woman. Above: The couple's airship in midair

 

The flight took place 15 months before what is generally accepted to be the first motorised flight by a woman. Above: The couple’s airship in midair

A Daily Mail report written in 1903 mentioned Spencer's flying attempts

A Daily Mail report written in 1903 mentioned Spencer's flying attempts

A Daily Mail report written in 1903 mentioned Spencer’s flying attempts

However, because Rose’s flight was not officially recorded, it has since ben overlooked.

Santos-Dumont is hailed in France and Brazil as being the first person to pilot a heavier-than-air flying machine. He did so in 1906 in his winged aeroplane.

Whilst the Wright brothers’ more famous plane had flown in 1903, Santos-Dumont’s feats were the first heavier-than-air flights certified by the Aeroclub of France.

Spencer’s machine could only carry one adult. It consisted of a bamboo frame which was hung below a hydrogen balloon. It was powered by a petrol engine and steered with a rudder.

A Daily Mail report written in 1903 mentioned Spencer’s flying attempts.

The article read: Mr Stanley Spencer, the well-known aeronaut, is to make eight attempts to fly his large new airship from the Crystal Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral and back, rounding the ball of the cathedral dome.

‘The first trial is fixed for next Friday, September 11.’

British Australian author Sally Smith uncovers Rose's story in her new book, Magnificent women and Flying Machines

British Australian author Sally Smith uncovers Rose's story in her new book, Magnificent women and Flying Machines

British Australian author Sally Smith uncovers Rose’s story in her new book, Magnificent women and Flying Machines

Source:Briton who flew steerable balloon while PREGNANT in 1902 may have been first woman to fly – GOB News (gobgh.co.uk)

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