The Coolest Women’s Firsts in History

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Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

Eugenie Shakhovskaya
> First woman to: Become a military pilot
> Year: 1914

Little is known about the life of Princess Shakhovskaya. She took up flying in 1911 in Germany. She gave it up to become an instructor but the Imperial Russian Air Force convinced her to go back. She flew reconnaissance missions and did not fight in combat.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Marie Marvingt
> First woman to: Fly a fighter plane in combat
> Year: 1915

Marvingt was an athlete and won gold medals in several sports, including skiing and rifle shooting. She competed with such passion, she was called a poor example for young women in France who were expected to be more ladylike. At one point she even disguised herself as a man to serve in the army. She flew fighters in World War I and made it her life’s mission to make planes part of medical support for injured people.

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

Margaret Sanger
> First woman to: Open first birth control clinic
> Year: 1916

Sanger was not only the first woman but also the first person to open a birth control clinic in the United States. It was in Brooklyn, New York. She was a nurse who was inspired by the story of a woman who died from complications of an unintended pregnancy.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gertrude Ederle
> First woman to: Swim across the English Channel
> Year: 1926

Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel, and she did it in style. She was more than two hours faster than the former (male) record holder. She even wore a two-piece bathing suit, an unconventional choice for the time.

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

Amelia Earhart
> First woman to: Fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
> Year: 1932

Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, five years after the first man to do so. She took off from Newfoundland, Canada, and landed in Ireland after about 15 hours. She and her co-pilot mysteriously disappeared during a flight that would have made her the first woman to fly around the world.