AKA Bessica Faith Medlar
Birthplace: Beloit, WI
Location of death: Newport Beach, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Aviator, Doctor
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Aviatrix and gynecologist
Dr Bessica Raiche was so fascinated with flight that she and her husband constructed an airplane of bamboo and silk in their living room, with bicycle wheels and a used marine motor powering a wooden propeller. They trucked it to Hempstead Plains, New York, where Mrs Raiche, being lighter than her husband and thus less of a strain on the plane's structure and engine, piloted several short flights on 16 September 1910. With this she became arguably (see Blanche Stuart Scott) the first American woman to pilot a solo flight, but definitely the first to intentionally take flight.
In her fifth flight on the same day she became the first US woman pilot to crash a plane. According to an account in a local newspaper, "She scrambled to her feet and before any one of the mechanicians and others who had witnessed the fall of the biplane could reach her, she had shut off the engine and stopped the propeller. She calmly said she was not injured to those who ran to her aid, and then she directed the men to drag the wrecked plane back to the shed".
The Raiches soon formed the French-American Aeroplane Company and built several more airplanes, including one of Mrs Raiche's design which she usually flew herself. The business was short-lived, however, and after they moved to California in 1912 she concentrated on her main career as a physician. She was one of America's first female specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, and in 1923 she chaired the Orange County Medical Association.
Father: James B. Medlar (inventor)
Mother: Elizabeth Medlar
Sister: Alice Medlar
Husband: François C. Raiche ("Frank", b. 1874, one daughter)
Daughter: Catherine Raiche
Medical School: Tufts University (1903)
English Ancestry (maternal)
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