Magnificent Women and Flying Machines: The First 200 Years of British Women in the Sky
Sally Smith

Magnificent Women and Flying Machines: The First 200 Years of British Women in the Sky

The personal story of those magnificent women in their flying machines; an area of history, aviation and society that has sadly been overlooked.


From the 1780s, when exuberant and over-dressed Letitia Sage became the first woman in Britain to fly above the ground, to the 1930s, when the soft courage of charming Amy Johnson enabled her to guide her little wood and fabric bi-plane all the way to Australia, the first 150 years of British women in aviation is filled with fascinating and often astonishing stories.  


Magnificent Women and Flying Machines offers a highly readable overview of the contributions made by pioneering British women who achieved firsts in early aviation, from ballooning and parachuting to flying airships, gliders and powered aircraft. The book provides steady insights into the progress of flight but, more importantly, highlights these amazing women who had to fight against the values of the day to fulfil their dreams.


Take Margaret Graham for instance. Bouncing off roof tops, water landings and a husband in prison, nothing was going to stop her from becoming Britain’s first female balloon pilot. Then there is Emily de Voy, who spent her childhood in a workhouse and ran off with her sister’s husband before attaching herself to a cumbersome harness to become Britain’s first female parachutist.


Rose Spencer, with her pregnancy elegantly covered by the long Edwardian fashions of the day, hopped into one of the first powered airships to achieve a beautifully controlled flight while

Manchester’s jolly Winifred Brown suddenly became a serious pilot after killing a young boy and went on to win a prestigious air race, beating all the top male flyers of the day.


This book is the story of the lives of Britain’s early trail blazing female aviators; inspirational adventure stories that deserve their place in the history books.


Book Details:

  • Author: Sally Smith
  • On Submission
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: The History Press
Sally Smith

Sally Smith

Sally was brought up in the UK but has lived in Tokyo, Cairo, Singapore and Australia and has dual British and Australian citizenship.   As a journalist, Sally worked for the London glossy Queen Magazine before it was taken over by Harpers; worked as a news journalist on the Daily Mail; Sunday Express; the Daily Telegraph and as a sub editor for BBC news in the UK; worked as a news journalist for the Daily Press and ABC TV news in Australia. Awards include Business Writer of the Year and a Winston Churchill Fellowship. She has had two books published, by Pelham Books in the UK and Ri...
More about Sally Smith

Book Reviews

  • "lively history of British women aviators’."
    Daily Mail
  • "Magnificent women and flying machines is possibly one of my favourite books."
    Charis Gambon, Little Insight Magazine
  • "This book is a rousing salute to the pioneering women of aviation."
    History Answers Magazine
  • "Compelling stories of female pioneers whose soaring ambition achieved firsts in the field of aviation."
    Britain Magazine
  • "Now Edith Cook, this adventurous girl from Ipswich, might at last receive the full recognition she deserves. She is just one of the women highlighted in the exciting new book, Magnificent Women and Flying Machines."
    Suffolk and Norfolk Magazine
  • "  Balloons, parachutes, aeroplanes, gliders, airships – the extraordinary and beautifully illustrated personal tales of the women who led the way in early British aviation...There is no other book that covers the roles played by the lesser-known British women in aviation."
    Dirigible Magazine
  • "A new book by Sally Smith, Magnificent Women and Flying Machines, tells the personal stories of many of Britain’s female aviation pioneers who, with humour and determination, managed to show the world that they too could fly."
    Airliner World